It started as a pipe-dream, a fantasy, a hankering of nostalgia? The kind of thing where you say, “lets go steal a street sign,” but never quite get to it. The path of least resistance is not writing letters, but somehow I got started and it’s continued pretty naturally for a couple weeks. I’ve received several letters from two people and I hope to discover this medium of keeping in touch with more people.

I’ve always been an early adopter of high-technology communication. My first e-mail account, I opened when I was 9, I used blogs to connect with writers around the world when I was 15, and I was one of the first high school students to use Facebook in 2005. I’ve used everything from iChat to facebook chat, MSN to Skype. (Except twitter – I haven’t used it successfully and I don’t think its worth the effort right now.)

And then I started writing letters. I’ve written letters to only two people before. A girl who went to band camp in middle school and a pen-pal in India. Neither correspondence lasted a very long time. So this is really the first time I’m depending on my correspondence through letters to maintain my fledgling relationships.

And the curious thing is…its my best work. I am rather timely with letters and I spent time with them. And I’m not afraid to write what I feel, to pour myself into my words. I’m always afraid of what I write to other people because its all public record. Nothing digital is private anymore, and letters are one of the few places its safe to store yourself. Every letter is a gift – it feels likes Christmas every time I find one in my mailbox.
And I reread letters like it’s a book. But a collection of letters is a narrative between people, so I guess it’s a piece of literature in itself.

Does it sound like I’m romanticizing about letters? If I am, it’s not with an ounce of nostalgia because I had never had the chance to discover letters before. Since I’ve just started on what seems like a wonderful journey, I’m not sure what the downfalls are.

Well, there is one. Time moves much more quickly and the “I” that I am now is much more different than the “I” that I present myself in subsequent letters. So far, I haven’t been satisfied using letters as my sole means of communication because so much substance is lost in between.

But I am rediscovering a new way of writing. Its not a carefully edited (read: censored) image that I present, as is possible via web, but a rediscovery of myself as my words often surprise me. I’m not very true, because I have re-written almost all my letters, and have gone back and erased, edited etc. I wonder, did letter-writers share that anxiety? (before there was the option of email?.)

I’ll just end, with three cheers for the inked word.

Advertisements