Remember those love letters you used to get in grade school? You know the letters of which I speak; “I like you, do you like me? Check (or circle) yes or no.” If your love letters were anything like mine, most times there would be a little stick couple drawn at the bottom holding hands, smiling, with a heart sketched big enough to place over each stick figure’s head. Aha, yes those letters! Recall the feeling that passed through your pre-pubescent body upon reading them? For me, it can be described as the feeling of confidence coupled with a hint of flattery. I must admit that these were some of the best approaches in written form I have gotten, and I was not interested in half of the boys in my class at all. Recently, my mother called me while she was rummaging through a box of keepsakes (mostly letters I sent to her, letters I received, old report cards, and etc) and decided it best to share with me a few of the letters. As she began to read a letter I wrote her while I was visiting family in New York, she sounded as if she was going to cry. In between pauses and several “are you listening to mes?” I could hear her voice change in octaves yet become lathered in excitement.
It could be described as if she were receiving this letter for the first time. “Okay Maine, at the top you have the date, July 5, 1989 then you have the time, and you start off with, “Hey Mama, I miss you…” Now, it would be false to say that I remember this letter, because I do not. It was far too long ago, but I do recall writing my mother while I was away and the fact that she wanted to share that moment in which she was reliving with me, made me smile. We moved on from that letter to a love letter written to me by a sweet, “little boy.” My mother read each sentence and I sat with my head leaning to the right, phone pressed firmly to my ear, engulfed in the reading as an advanced pupil in class. She began reading the lyrics to New Kids on the Block’s “Please Don’t Go Girl,” and I reminisced joyfully because this was my favorite song during that time. The writer was begging me not to break his heart (ala biting some lyrics) and asking for another chance. I shook my head in disbelief as my mother continued and I thought, *what in the world happened for him to write this?* She finished reading the letter and said to me, “Maine, now who wrote this to you? Was it that sweet little boy who sat with you on the porch swing after school and always asked if he could hold your hand?” I could only reply, “Yes Mom, yes it was.”
I do not remember a time in my life in which I was not writing. Anything that involved writing, I was definitely prepared to showcase what little skills I had. To this day, I send letters to a few of my friends and family. I purchase stationery, pens, notepads, and colorful envelopes to carry on this tradition. There is a humbling quality to writing, something so indescribable. You’d really have to share the same love for words as I do and enjoy using them, sharing them, and learning them to truly understand. We live in an age where text messages equal quick hellos, emails are ways to “catch-up,” and instant messenger services allow us to carry on full e-conversations. We have forgotten the art that is letter writing. We have pushed it to the back burner, placed it on simmer, and walked away from it never to return.
I have three friends who write me regularly in response to the letters I have written them. Each time I open my mailbox and see a letter from one of the three, the same feeling of delight emerges. I am shown that my mailbox can house documents other than bills, junk mail, and penny savers (after all, who likes getting any of these?). I am reminded that simplicity still exists and although dying, letter writing is not yet dead. Write someone you love, trust me, you will brighten up their day.