A&E

The Art of Writing Letters

      In eighth grade English class, the last period of the day, I kept myself busy by passing notes with my friend Allison. We’d spend every free moment of the school day writing long letters to document our inside jokes, tease each other about our crushes and make plans for the coming weekend. We worked hard to fill every blank space on a sheet of bright white printer paper and then folded the paper into tiny, self-taught shapes mimicking origami.

      Allison and I didn’t need to give notes in order to keep tabs on each other’s lives. We spent almost every day together. We had the same classes, played on the same basketball teams and frequented each other’s houses for weekend sleepovers. We talked nonstop when we were together, memorizing all the facts of the other’s life. There was no communicative reason for Allison and I to write notes. Rather, we wrote these letters for the mere art of putting words on a page. We liked to doodle our funny lines said at basketball practice and sketch out our names in bubble letters. We worked hard to document our friendship, logging our favorite memories, dreams and appreciation for each other.

      After moving away to college, I’ve learned to be more intentional about keeping up with friends. With smartphones, this has become relatively simple to do. I can maintain contact with long-distance friends by sending a few texts each week, and I can view the content they post on Facebook or Instagram. Thanks to the Internet, we have never been more connected to friends so far away.

      But sometimes, when I’m away at school for months at a time, I miss the connection of having face-to-face contact with my friends. Though we have the option of connecting through online video chats, we remain separated by our two cell phones and hundreds of miles. This is why writing letters and sending cards has become such an important part of my long-distance friendships.

      As I pull out the long drawer that hovers above my lap at my dorm room desk, a shuffled pile of opened envelopes floats forward. I take the collection in my hands and page through the words my friends have sent me through snail mail. Each friend has different handwriting, perfect depictions of their personalities. I imagine my friends writing these letters–working at their kitchen tables with their tongues pinched between their lips as they carve out words in ballpoint.

      Dear Shelly,

      You won’t be getting this letter for a while, so I guess I could write about last night as a sort of time capsule experience for you. I was with a boy, Shelly. *nervous giggle* …I love when we talk about that kind of stuff and react like teenage girls– the small things I love about you and I, Shelly…

      Hi… Here are a few things that have been on my mind:

      I’m still awaiting my return letter…

      I truly adore your servant’s heart. The way you bless others with your time and company.

      Please, please, please come VISIT MEEEE!! I …I got a freaking apartment in hopes that I’d be more frequently visited by a friend of mine (…I’m speaking of you)

      …..I love ya, Shell! …and the color of this pen… that I love as well

      Shell,

      … It’s a long and rough journey. Thoughts, prayers, and check-ins are appreciated. BUT, how is the semester? I bet crazy busy especially now since you are approaching the end. Are you remembering to take time for yourself? #selfcareSaturday

      … Stay safe and be kind.

      Love you always…

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