In the back of an upstairs closet, under a layer of dust and some old clothes, I uncovered a box I hadn’t seen in years. Inside were some stray photographs from my college days and a few outdated documents. What caught my eye, though, were some letters a dear friend had sent to me. Holding them in my hands brought a flood of memories. I’d been away at school when I got them, on the precipice of the big unknown that was my future.
All these years later, I opened one to a date in the right hand corner: 10-3-79. My friend and I, born in 1960, would have been sophomores in college and 19—19!
“Dear Marcia,” she started, “I’m sorry for taking so long in writing…” I smiled. The apology wasn’t necessary, but Carol was as thoughtful then as she is to this day.
There’s nothing earth-shattering in her words. Still, it’s a thrill to see them again: the talk of classes, changing interests, her ongoing romance. How young and full of life we were. I couldn’t wait to show that letter to Carol—and to her husband, the same boyfriend she’d written about all those years ago.
I have a soft spot for letters, which is why they play a role in my soon-to-be-published novel, The God of Sno Cone Blue, part of which, the Prologue and First Chapter, I’ve made available for reading. But I digress!
More on Letters
My favorite letter of all time came at the perfect moment as far as I was concerned. I was in my 20s, a television reporter and a long way from home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The job was a great first step, but the pay stunk: 12,000 bucks a year, which, even by 1984 standards was lousy. I had no car and could barely afford rent and bus fare.
It was Friday night and many of my new coworkers were going out. Much as I wanted to join them, I couldn’t go with empty pockets. So, resigned to stay home, I wandered out to the mailbox where, oddly enough, I found a letter. I hardly ever got mail.
Tearing into it, I pulled out handwritten pages from my Grandma Bessie–and a fat 20-dollar bill. My grandmother didn’t have much and was rarely able to send anything, so the cash was completely unexpected. I read her sweet letter as I raced to join my friends, who, much of that evening endured details of my Grandma Bessie and her perfect timing.
How About You?
When’s the last time you got a letter, I mean the real, snail-mail version? These days, we hardly bother to write them. And why should we? We have email and Twitter, texts and instant messaging, which I doubt we’ll save in dusty boxes. It’s oh-so-convenient, but are we losing something in the process? What do you think?
Better yet, take a moment to tell the story of a letter—for better or worse—you received. I’d love to hear it.