There is something absolutely special about hand-written letters that I miss. It was the magic of having someone’s written thoughts poured out on paper through ink. It was pure and it was beautiful. The writer’s feelings were felt through reading and touching the letter. It was incredibly innocent.
From time to time, I find myself getting nostalgic for those days. They felt simpler. The world was uncomplicated. Our biggest problems were getting through school, wondering why our crush didn’t like us and why that teacher hated us. Compared to the weight of the world we carry with us today, those days were sunshine and rainbows
Living in the era of letter writing meant that we had to really think about what we were going to write. We had to make serious considerations for grammar, tense, the perfect paper, and a handwriting that wasn’t chicken scratch. While in school, I was the go to person for writing love declarations to other people’s crushes. I had the flowery language, I just had to turn my chicken crush into a flowery script. I just never had the courage to write to my crush, which was a pity.
I remember the first letter I received while I was at school. When my name was read as one of the people that had received a letter, I rushed to get it. It was a letter from my big brother, Pavia. He had been thinking about me and wanted to know how I was doing. And then he proceeded to take me through his day at the school he was at. Taking me along with him on a journey through the perils of male adolescence. I treasured that letter. It brought me closer to a brother who was so far away and helped me understand him better.
Whenever I received a letter, I pictured the person hunched over a table, thinking carefully about what they were writing to me. Letting me into their head. Pausing, thinking, writing down, scratching it away, scrunching up the paper and starting again. You see, with letters, one had to be perfect. But even when it wasn’t perfect, there were markings and stains on the paper that let us into the writer’s headspace. Handwritten letters are incredibly personal.
Then technology advanced and we got phones that led to the age of instant messages. In the time before WhatsApp, Messenger, Telegram, and Signal, SMSes were a thing and with SMSes came short hand, which I hated. I remember being called bougie for spelling out the word ‘because’ in a text. (Because was either ‘coz’ or b’se.)
Don’t get me wrong, I think SMSes are great because of the instant connection to the person you’re writing. But, here’s the thing though, I felt an even deeper connection to the person that took the time to write me letters.
Maybe it’s the case of instant versus delayed gratification. Or maybe it’s just the almost impersonal nature of the texts. Or maybe it’s that when a person sits down to write you a handwritten letter, it’s just obvious that they’ll go deeper than the platitudes we’ve found on instant messages. What it feels like is this; a message on whatever social media messaging platform a person chooses will feel like facts. A letter is like facts told through a story. And we all love a good story.
How are you doing? I’ve been good. There are a few things I’m dealing with though….
I think writing letters is a lost art –one that’s worth reviving because of everything that it was. I’m sure we all have those letters that we’ve held on to through the years. I think writing letters is an act of authorship, it’s also an addition to the history of this person. Whether it’s trivial or a deep confession. And most of the time we keep these letters as keepsakes, like our favourite books.
While we embrace the new technologies, let’s not push to the side the great things of the past. Bring back letter writing.