Wednesday, 13 December 2006

The Handwritten

Yesterday I received a large envelope in the mail; the type you would attribute to holding a small item - not the norm amongst the usual white envelopes with transparent windows. So you could say I got a little excited.I love getting personal mail - any mail really (except junk mail or mail addressed "to the householder"). Sinks does my heart when the letter box remains uninhabited with the desires of thy soul - (a note from the gas company can have that effect on a girl - NOT!).When at school, I would write letters continuously. I loved reading about my friends lives and what they had been up to. I also loved the stamps.
When I was 10 years old I joined an international group that connected writing enthusiasts from all over. I had no less than 7 pen friends at the peak of my involvement, and they were just the international ones - it was like hands of friendship stretched across the the globe.
Whenever I received a letter I would diligently write back within the week, and while some pen friends would return my letters with equal efficiency, months would pass before I would hear from others. There were two girls in particular, with whom I wrote on a very regular basis; an English girl called Emma and a German girl called Sonja. I started writing to Emma as a ten year old. She was a lot of fun and there was the expected amount of silliness for girls of our age, within our exchanges. I think her enthusiasm for letter writing waned upon entrance of "the boyfriend".
I started writing to Sonja as a 12 year old. She was a year older than I, and we continued to write until I was 18. I had moved out of home at that stage, and she had found work in a bank and was about the start a commerce degree at university when our connection ran dry.
I also wrote to friends who had moved away, and friends from my "old town" - all letters were written in a similar style. There was a familiarity that history created, shaped and carved through the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Old friends were seldom seen again, despite the writing, and there was never any expectation of meeting the pen friends, so in a way, writing to them was sort of like a diary - something I never kept, despite the obsessive adolescent writing frenzy.There was indeed something therapeutic about releasing the thoughts; spilling them onto a fresh sheet of paper and mailing them off to some place far far away.
I wonder if that international organisation exists today. I am sure it does, but with the onset of the Internet, email, blogs, MSN and the countless other pockets of cyber-society, I wonder whether the handwritten word is exchanged as frequently...I guess not. These other outlets do provide the pent up writer similar opportunity. Nevertheless, I sure did appreciate the time and energy put into the long handwritten letter I received yesterday. The exchanging of words on paper - the paper upon which another had poured his or her emotions into; words physically presented..... and the words left unsaid, edited from the physical eye, but thoughts felt through the clutching of paper. Thank you.

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