Wednesday, September 22, 2010

you've got mail

post office glow

when i was
little
i liked to write
letters.

in school,
as far back as
i can remember
when it was
time to take out
crayons or markers
i would make
a card.
usually for my mom.
i would draw
people and penguins
(i had a thing
for penguins)
on grass,
near a house
with the
typical sun
and clouds.

inside
i would write
something like:

dear mommy,
i hope you had a good day.
i love you.


sometimes
i would write
to my brothers.
but then
i'd make
sure to say
i like you.
since you
don't tell your brothers
you love them
when you are
little.
or at least
i didn't.
ewww.

i had
a series
of intense
letter exchanges
with friends
in elementary school
and
in high school.
usually these
exchanges
were with friends
i saw all the time
but somehow
we expressed something
different about
ourselves when
we wrote letters
to each other.

when i lived
in germany
with my uncle & aunt
i would eat lunch
by the window
and
wait for the postman.
it was
my only connection
to the familar-
letters from home.

in college
i still wrote
to many of my friends.
i bought
an old typewriter
and loved sitting
in my attic room
banging away
on the old keys.
email was
still
in its
fledgling
years.

letter from joe

i received
many letters
from
my brothers
and
my friend
elizabeth.
usually elaborately
decorated.
i distinctly
remember
the joy
i felt
when i found one
in my
dorm hall mailbox.
i savored
those letters
waiting
for the perfect time
to open them.
sometimes
in my favorite spot
overlooking the
university
or after dinner
in my room
with a cup of tea.

i have saved
every
single
letter.
they are in
a big box
in my parent's barn.
every now
and again
i go through them.
they are
better than photographs
because
they tell you
more about
who
we were...
what
we thought
where
we were
years
and
years
ago.

then
email
took over
and research
and school
ate up
all my time.
blogging was
the closest
i got
to letter writing.
it was
my letter
to everyone.

old post office

i have rarely
written
a letter
except the occasional
thank you
or
birthday card.

in the
past year
i have felt
a great deal
of sadness
about
the connections
i have lost
as i get older...
about the friends
i have neglected.

honestly,
i hate email.
i am on the computer
all the time.
i spend
most of my day
looking at a screen.
so i am bad
about responding
to an email.
i am not inspired
to write
in that medium.

recently
i decided
to try
to write again.
in a
very gwen-way
i was overambitious.
i made
a
long
long
list
of people
who i wanted
to write to
and
every time
i have a spare moment
i write a postcard.
postcards
are easy.

low commitment.
but
they still are
a fragment
of your everyday.
they still
are handwritten.
they still
say
i am thinking of you.

letters&postcards

it's actually
easier
than i thought.
for the past
2 months
i have
written
to everyone
on the list.
many people
i try
to write to
weekly.

it's a start.
s l o w l y,
letters are
coming back to me.
my mailbox
is often filled
with cards.

i think
many of us
hunger
for that
connection
again.

i am going
to try
to make this
a habit.

we shall see.

box of letters

but for now
my wooden box
of letters
is filling up
and
i feel connected
again.
it's
a wonderful
feeling.

bringing
back
snail mail
one
letter
at
a
time.

xo

24 comments:

alexandria said...

Beautiful words and photos. Recently I bought a package of cards to send in the mail to friends just because. This is just the thing I needed to read, I miss snail mail too. Thank you, Gwen.

Tracey said...

Wow, this post took me back... I was the same way, I loved to write letters when I was young. I wrote to my friends and to my father - I even made up a game "post office" that I played with my sister that I'm pretty sure only I enjoyed. There's a big box of old letters in my storage room that I haven't looked at for years. You've inspired me to dig them out. Thank you.

broadcast.poulet said...

amen to that!
i am a letter writer, too.

Poke Salad Annie said...

i love this post. i wanna write postcards!

buttercup caren said...

I want to re-ignite my love of writing letters, too. I've kept so much of my old hand written correspondence from friends & family, and often want to pick up pen & paper & get to it. But somehow it never happens. I suppose the "somehow" is the fact I deal in instant communication with email/twitter/blogging. But that is just an excuse, and after reading your blog post I feel even more inspiration to go old school & send an honest to goodness letter to someone!
Thank you. :)

Alycia (The Curious Pug) said...

aww such a good post! i love getting mail from a friend. now all i get are bills :( boo to being an adult. but glad to see you are getting back into writing :)

clairehelene7 said...

I used to write epic letters with my cousin, who was six months older than me and lived in Hawaii. I have a big hat box full of our letters, plus the notes my friends and I passed to each other in middle school, and the letters friends sent me in college. I love letters. I need to write more of them.

lisa s said...

i love my postcards, although the last one got destroyed in a fifi eating experience. sigh. water water and pasta everywhere...

i owe you one...

i have a box of letters somewhere too...

Lisa said...

I think I just have to go with amen as well. Thank you for this, Gwen.

Carolee said...

this is gorgeous. I wonder if I might re-post it on my blog, Good Mail Day (www.good-mail-day.com) - with proper credit, of course?

If not, I am happy just to leave a link for people.

Thank you for writing this. There are still many of us who daily try to keep snail mail alive.

and if I had one thing to say about it, it is this: do you miss getting mail? SEND some mail. And then more. Wait. You may be surprised.

Rosemary said...

Your beautiful words captured some of the very same sentiments as I. Recently I re-discovered a big box of letters going back 20 years. I was taken back to friendships and eras in my life that I had forgotten about. It was history in letters, an amazing walk down memory lane. I ended up writing to some of those friends again and writing friends that have moved away. There is a beauty in a hand-written letter that nothing else can match. So, I'm back to letter writing and loving it!

Isabelle said...

Wow. You make me feel so inspired to write letters of my own! I think I am going to make my own list right this second. Thank you!

Erin Lang Norris said...

Loved this post, Gwen.

I have 2 penpals. I have not written to them in almost a year. It's mostly because my letters to them are LONG and I never know when to stop. It kind of turned into journaling, in a way, and that's not what I wanted.

So I just wanted to let you know that you've inspired me to finish my mailing station in the office- I need to stock up on postcards, stamps and nice markers for writing. If I only have so much room to write, I think I'll be fine.

Thanks for this post.

RW said...

I loved this post.
I too, love letters. I love writing them and receiving them. Your idea of making a list is brilliant.

I am smiling thinking of your box filling up again.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Gosh, memories... I used to write and receive so many letters. This was an especially big part of my life during high school and it continued with some people throughout my undergrad years. A few years ago, before I began this blog, I wrote a little newsletter. It was similar to a longish blog post and I sent it snail mail. It was called "nest" and I loved it, but then I let it go. I'd like to start using snail mail again, at least in some small way. I like your postcard idea.

dingbatdc said...

love your post! I used to write letters all the time, especially when I was in college, but even through the grad school years. I have fallen out of the habit thanks to email, and even when I get the urge to write a letter I sometimes choose email instead because I think it is better because the words will get there faster, but somehow the words are different, and I feel like I've lost the knack for putting words to paper. But lately, I've begun to try again!!

emily said...

i have been meaning to comment here since i first read this a few days ago. and then today i got your letter. thank you for that. i grew up with a strong tradition of letter writing, too. it's something i miss.

TwoHeartsPath said...

I Love your Post, I love to send and receive Snail Mail...I do not practice the art of letter writing as much as I used to with a full time job. I Love to send Cards and know that they will always bring a smile to anyone's face...Some things just never go out of style.....like letters from home...
Thanks for Posting
Patti

Erin said...

Erin here from the Postal Museum. We just put up a link to this poem on our Facebook page. We love it! Good luck writing all those postcards. http://www.facebook.com/SmithsonianNationalPostalMuseum

youngmi said...

love this post. every summer, i would go to a week long camp and leave with a bunch of new pen pals. we would write to each other of meaningless things that are important to 10 year olds and trade stickers. i'm the same as you, i'm terrible with emails and phone calls and reading back on old emails just isn't the same as reading old letters. thank so much for sharing :) i'm definitely bookmarking this post.

Sungopolis said...

squee! i love getting cool and arty mail. (that's what goes through my head every time I get a sweet card or letter).

there's hope for the united states post office yet. Hope, thy name is Gwen.

Love from Kaz said...

You've expressed so much of what has lead me back to letter-writing. Now, it has become such a fantastic, integral part of my life. I write and receive letters almost every day... what bliss.

Renee said...

Beautifully written. Wise words and an even wiser goal. Reminds me of my goals to simplify my life. Slow it down and make it more meaningful. Thank you!

clara said...

That was lovely to read. I think I will try making a list of people I can write to and encourage my daughters to do the same. It would be lovely to get letters back! Thanks for the inspiration!