I did something this week that I haven't done in years. I wrote a letter. Not tapped out an email correspondence, which I do on almost a daily basis, but actually wrote a letter. With a real pen and real ink.
I took the notion to write one some time back, when my eldest son's beloved, Courtney, and I were in the stationery section of Barnes & Noble. So many fine papers and beautiful shades of ink. We were enthralled by the girliness of it all and embarked on a conversation about letters and letter writing.
She had just seen the movie Quills, in which The Marquis de Sade writes obsessively from the asylum using a feather pen. I'd been on a Jane Austen tear and remarked that in Jane Austen novels, everyone writes and receives letters. We talked some of the blandness of emails, about how annoying emotive icons are no subsitute for the personal touch of a handwritten note. And then, even though we live just towns apart, we decided to become pen pals.
It's funny how when you sit down at a keyboard, your hand automatically arranges itself to tap, tap, tap your thoughts onto the screen. I type very quickly, so my nibble fingers can keep pace with my what I want to say. But with handwriting, it's different. Handwriting is a slower process and - having grown unaccustomed to communicating in that way - I found myself accidentally skipping letters in my haste. After ruining a couple of sheets of paper, I forced myself to slow down. My fears that the syntax of my words would be lost by not pouring them so quickly into my message turned out to be unfounded. If anything, writing by hand gives me more time to remember and add more details, and even the leisurely pace even allowed for time a few drawings to illustrate my correspondence. In the end, and the ebb and flow of the message was sufficient to meet my standards. Very satistfying, indeed.
I wrote two letters - one a note updating Courtney of the antics of a kitten I picked up for her a few days earlier (she's away in Arizona and will be returning this week) and the other a letter about my childhood experiences growing up on a haunted farm.
I enjoyed the letter writing so much that I'd like to do more. All I need is more pen pals. If anyone has the time and inclination to correspond by mail, just let me know. It would be a great way to exchange pleasantries that I might not otherwise put on my blog.
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