I used to joke that the seven months after I was born while I waited for my cousin Ruth to be born were the hardest of my life. Growing up we were best friends and completely inseparable for the three months of summer every year. The other dreary nine were spend at our prospective houses 300 miles from each other where we kept in touch through letters and long-distance calls paid for a quarter at a time with our own savings. Whatever the distance, no other friendship was like ours the entire twelve months a year. It was the kind of best friend situation that YA fiction is all about and sisterhood teen flix aim to capture. Time and circumstance have caused us to grow apart emotionally but nothing can ever take away the bond that we shared through a mutual effort and constant stream of letter writing.
Nowadays I can easily fire off three emails a minute from a conveniently pocket sized device; but there is a great power in putting away your smart phone to pull out ink and paper. More emotions are channeled and heart captured in a letter that is written down with your own hand. And let us not forget the exhilarating joy in receiving a letter in the mail, addressed to yourself, written from a friend.
Through my years of childhood I collected my cousin’s letters in a box… which I traded up for a larger box… Which I was then instructed to sort through and condense into a smaller and more reasonably sized box. Our budding world and life experiences were all documented through those letters. Small notes of love, pictures, long letters of ranting anger at our mothers, and often, very often, glitter, were all secured neatly in those tiny envelopes.
I remember my mother’s box of stationery as a prize. No way would I be allowed to write three letters a week from her fancy stationery, that came in its own box and had a magnificent papertastic smell when opened; but on rare occasions, if I was particularly nice to my horrible little brother, I would be allowed to write a letter to Ruth on this sacred paper. These were the most prized letters.
When I was older she eventually gave me that coveted box along with my own stationery. No greater gift had ever been received. I promptly wrote letters to everyone and cherished my new form of exquisite expression.
Paper may be one of the few things that actually does grow on trees but was not, in fact, produce from that box itself. My beloved stash was soon depleted and as I went off to college the box was lost along the way and letter writing was not a priority. Besides, now I had an amazing new device at my fingertips, my very convenient and functional laptop.
It was not the same.
Anyone who enjoys writing letters will tell you that sending an email gives the sender and the receiver only a fraction of the gratification that a postally delivered note offers. And so I set out to buy a box of my own, adult stationery. This one might be a wooden box that came with a matching pen, I envisioned it over and over in my head. Maybe it would be inscribed with my name. I thought about how my daughter would watch me write letters from paper out of this special box and she would desire one of my pages to write to her very best friend in the world. Then one day I’d pass my box along to her and she would cherish it until she passed it on. I’m very romantic.
Now, I’ve never claimed to be good with the technology. I am often downloading viruses and generally grammaing up (that’s the act of being a gramma who doesn’t know how to use the computer) my whole laptop, but I DO know how to shop online. However, I cannot, for the life of me, find this stationery box of my dreams. I can’t even seem to find stationery! Are people so disconnected with hand written letters that there isn’t even a need for stationery?
My wonderful husband, Dan, bought me a beautiful set of cards for our first anniversary. (You know, the paper anniversary!) I love these cards dearly and they have my name glamorously written across the top in purple script. He definitely won the gift giving this anniversary. But… they are too small for proper letter writing. He said they are for answering my fan mail. Will do!! Now, how do I find stationery for letter writing?
I mentioned that time and circumstance have caused Ruth and I to grow apart, something I regret constantly, and wonder how to recapture what we once had. We have turned into such different people with different goals and ambitions. I wonder if we could ever get back the tight-knit bond of our youth. Our 300 mile physical distance has expanded into a 3,000 mile chasm through our collective moves, but, I believe, through the postal service, it doesn’t need to feel any difference than it once was.
I think I need to break out a sheet of College Ruled and old skool get to know my dear friend again. I challenge anyone who has lost touch with someone they dearly love to write to them; bridge the gap. See how it unfolds from there.