Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pen and Paper, Ink and Words

I received another postcard yesterday, this one from Romania.  It was a very pretty one of the Palace of Culture in a town called Iasi.

It got me thinking.  I'm no different than anyone else these days with the instant gratification of emails, blogging, Facebook, Twitter--though I refuse to get involved in the latter two; there's only so much time in the day after all and I just can't be bothered.

So I'm walking back from the mailbox, looking at the postcard, thinking about writing.  Really writing.  The actual motion of picking up a pen, physically putting ink on paper, choosing the words carefully to not make a mistake, truly thinking about what to convey to the person who will receive the missive.**

Imagine the days before nanosecond technology, before computers, cell phones, tablets, emails, apps--days that actually weren't so very long ago. 

People wrote.  They penned love letters to be cherished, saved in a bundle to be read again and again.  Letters about life and longing, family and friends.  Letters of pain, despair, to be cried over, tear drops blurring the inked words of rejection, loss, heartbreak. 

There was something irrefutable about those written letters; thoughts, words, emotions, cast in ink-stone.  Once sent, the words couldn't be taken back, deleted, changed...some words wouldn't, couldn't be forgiven; some would never be forgotten.

I used to have beautiful handwriting, a flourish in my signature.  Since I was a kid, people have commented on the elegant, almost Victorian, form of my writing.  These days I type nearly everything, and when I do write, it's usually in block print.

Jan (The BFF) however, is living proof there are still tiny enclaves of non-tech folks, people who don't have a cell phone, and rarely use their computers.  She writes letters.  Almost like a lost ship, an anachronism drifting out of the past, a letter will arrive in the mail.  It will be a rambler, full of newsy details about her day, her partner, Lucky the Labrador's antics: an appetite for roadkill; often there will be a clipping from a magazine, or her local paper, with some tidbit she wants to share with me.  It is a treasure, seemingly from another time, and yet bursting with the immediacy of her life just a few days prior to arriving in mine.

We talk on the phone every Sunday, and yet she still sends me a letter.  Because, she says, it means more.

Periodically, we will send cards to each other, often close to the same day.  She will find one that speaks to our long-held friendship, I will find one that says the things I want to tell her, to help her through the harder moments of her day, her work. 

Not long ago, I got this card from her, out of the blue, no occasion.  It made me smile.  It made me thankful I have such a friend.  It made me love her even more for being the person she is.  I framed it.  (Click on the card to read the words).

At the same time, I found this card for her.  It was perfect food for thought while she toiled...

We said almost the identical things inside the cards: how much we loved our friendship, and each other, and thanks for always being there.

I didn't block print.  I wrote with my old handwriting, signing off with a flourish.   Nothing less would do.

** I looked in the thesaurus for other synonyms for missive.  I could come up with a few on my own, but I was curious, it's such an old word.  Missive wasn't even listed.  How sad.


  1. My handwriting's never been what could be considered beautiful, but, once upon a time, I could hand-write upward of thirty pages in a sitting and not flinch. Nowadays, more than five or ten and my hand begins to cramp. Although, neither method, typing or handwriting, can sometimes keep up with torrent of thought when I am purging words.

    1. I used to love writing. I had special pens and paper. Then typing took over because I could write more, and faster. What a bad tradeoff that was. Now I'm lucky if I can write two pages without my fingers going wonky.

      Remember that weird bump on the middle finger from holding the pen/pencil? I had that bump for all the years I was in school and at least a decade after. And ink stains. When was the last time...?

      I understand the flood of words. I tried to talk them out on a recorder once. For some reason I just got tongue-tied, stuttered and stammered, and gave up in frustration