LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
So often I hear people talk about “snail mail” and that it’s a thing of the past, but I beg to differ. Digital mail will never replace ink on paper.
If you ask your elders how so many of them began their lifelong friendships or 60-year marriages, they will be quick to say that it all began with letter writing, and I think they were onto something. One of my first experiences with letter writing was in the third grade.
I happened upon a brightly colored set of stationary from every little girl’s favorite brand, Lisa Frank. My neon stationary set was my gateway to passing my very first note in class, and I made sure it was a good one.
“Dear Joshua, will you be my friend? Yes or no.”
You see, I was a “new kid” from Michigan who didn’t learn the southern drawl just yet and my parents weren’t very well acquainted with anyone else’s — which in rural Kentucky means that you’re weird and no one’s going to invite you over for a birthday party. The kid that sat by me in class eventually became my friend that year, then I became good friends with his friends, and I even got invited to a birthday party.
So letter writing thereafter meant success for me.
I began to write letters to my favorite teachers with even more success. One in particular was Mrs. Cazalet. She had a wonderful laugh and always made sure I was on task…well…because I liked to talk a lot. I figured that if I wrote her a letter she would get to know me better. So I began writing elementary things such as, “I liked your shirt today. It was pretty,” and then I graduated to the grandest statement of all, “You’re the best teacher in the world.”
My letters became even more successful, since I made an ‘A’ in almost every subject. Then in high school, writing letters took a back burner to how cool you could fold a piece of paper into origami and inside it said something profound like, “hey, that’s cool,” and I began to lose interest. As an adult, I re-visited the thought of sending letters. I began writing to friends overseas, family who live states away and even my grandparents just miles away. Soon after, I was receiving loads of mail in return, some even came with gifts.
I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a romantic, so on random occasion, I’ll even send a love letter. Reminding family and those I hold near and dear to my heart that I’m thinking of them, and gosh darn it, I took the time to write it out on a piece of paper, spend a good amount of money on stamps and went out of my way to find a mailbox to put it into.
No matter how much I email, instant message or text, nothing can ever replace a permanent piece of paper that was hand-written by someone I adore. Because when I become old and frail, and begin to lose those that I’ve known my entire life, I’ll at least be able to hold a piece of that person in my hand. I will be able to hold their personal thoughts that will always have life, each time I re-visit their well-addressed letters.