A year ago, maybe two, I received a real letter from Michelle. On paper, in an envelope, with a stamp.
And thus we commenced an erratic correspondence, one in which the U.S. Postal Service is a partner.
Then I began to receive occasional envelopes from Cindy and from Wayne. Sometimes mail arrives from the Karens East and West. And from others I am forgetting to name. And now Fran is threatening to send postcards from her vacation.
What gives? I communicate with all of these people in a myriad of ways: blogs, Facebook, email, telephone, even in person. Regular mail is surely the slowest and least efficient option.
There is something about a real letter, a letter that began in the hands of a real person, slipping through the mail slot and onto the floor of the front hallway, which conveys that communication between individuals is a matter of great moment. There is something evocative and compelling about words formed by hand in ink, something lacking in words that appear on computer screens. Letters are accompanied by more than the widest variety of software fonts can offer: I am touched by the texture and weight of the envelopes, and I delight in the images on the cards, images that convey those little extras about the writers that their words do not entirely encompass.
Three years ago I received hundreds of cards and letters in a matter of weeks. Some of them still arrive on occasion, from people who have just heard the news, or who needed months (or years) to work their way up to writing. I have been astonished by the eloquence of those letters. They are utterly beautiful. I treasure them all. (And those somewhat delayed? Great gifts. It is genuinely moving and comforting to read that others were so stunned and saddened that they, too, were immobilized. Allies.)
I am not the best of regular mail correspondents. But I am inspired to improve.
If we can write real letters so gracefully during times of tragedy, why not during times of joy, or adventure, or consternation, or complexity, or just plain ordinary life?
I think that I like this slow mail movement!