There’s Nothing Like a Man’s Pen

The Love Letter

The Love Letter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even before the Marvelettes’ 1961 hit, “Please Mr. Postman“, human beings the world over have held hope that something deliciously delightful will arrive in their  mailbox.

 Now, instead of paper that has actually touched the hand of a lover who is away from his lady fair, possibly against his will, we receive short emails and even shorter text messages.Not so very romantic.

What is it about the written word, on real paper, penned by the hand of someone dear that still holds us spellbound? Perhaps just that. Instead of digital flashes passing through space, the energy of the person is much more palpable, near and tactile when we hold the paper that they held, when we hold the envelope that they sealed or when we smudge the ink that they penned. A printed page is ever so much more cuddly and ready when you can’t sleep and want to re-read a love letter or giggly note from a gal-pal.

I have a letter drawer. It’s also my miscellaneous writing drawer, and where I keep a few pens, bookmarks and my birth control. But, for the purpose of this post, let’s just call it my letter drawer. It’s where I tuck all sacred goodies that my friends or lovers have written to me. It’s right next to my bed, where I can reach over, have a read, and then, contentedly, drift off into a blissfully romantic sleep.

Much deeper in my storage closet I still have the letters that my husband wrote to me while we were dating. Being my betrothed and all, his letters took the place of all previous love notes that I had saved throughout the years. I was in university, and he was working ‘up north’. I think he wrote me at least one letter every week and some poetry.  His poetry won’t make the New Yorker any time soon, but it was the thought that counted. Getting a letter from him amidst the bills was such a pleasure. Kinda like finding your stocking filled at Christmas. Now, those letters are proof that I wasn’t a stupid woman when I decided to get married. I was in love, and I believed in it.

Words hold power, and we don’t often enough write the things in our heart that we want to tell people.  The good stuff that is.  I’m not talking about cards, or hallmark sentiments, I mean real letters, with real things to say. One of my many true loves had a wonderful way of writing a few short lines that burst with emotion.

 Another, a long-distance-true-love used to write the occasional long letter as a surprise when he was working night shifts. He would include photos and sweet little tidbits about what he enjoyed about me. I still have the letters somewhere, still in the mailers that he would have had to buy at the post office and put postage on to send my way. I kept the photos inside, and every once in a while when I’m looking for something else, I come across these letters and reminisce. I smile, I tear up a bit, and I remember.

Last Valentine’s Day ( or, as I refer to it during my dateless-Februaries, ” VD”) I received a lovely package from one of my friends, including flowers, music,chocolates and a ‘date night’ invitation. There was also a letter. It was very sweet, included a description of someone as an a-hole. It made me smile, laugh, brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me again that there are some wonderful men out there.

I have a few letters written from my grandmother. When I lost her, I lost my best friend, but in the bottom of the sewing basket she gave to me, I have one of her silly letters. Whenever I visited my grandmother, she was like one of the shoemaker’s elves. Granny would come into my room while I was sleeping and gather what she though needed to be laundered. One day when I got home and was unpacking, I noticed that my favourite bra was missing.

I called and asked that she kindly mail it back as it was one of my favourites. My grandmother had bequeathed her big bossom to me, so she knew how important that bra was. She sent it out the next day express. Included with the bra was a card. The card – a Christmas card – originally read; May the joy of the season stay with you throughout the coming year. She crossed out “the season” and replaced it with “getting your bra back” ; May the joy of getting your bra back stay with you throughout the coming year. Within that silly card, she had placed a hand written letter telling me all about her day, and expressing the hope that she did not shrink my bra. During the times I’m frantically looking for the right colour of thread, or a matching button, my fingers scrape the bottom of the basket, and her card, and I know that she is still with me, and life isn’t so serious after all.

Then of course there are the letters that break your heart. Mean letters. I usually throw those out.  The letters we throw out, the mean ones, come from something that wasn’t worth keeping anyway. 

One of my nearest and dearest friends moved back to Newfoundland last year. We used to share tears and laughter  about our heartbreaks and happiness. I miss her. Time is such that sometimes I’m forced to send an email instead of a letter, but I so love taking the time to put pen to paper and write a proper letter. Part of the reason I enjoy it is because I know that receiving a letter in the mail is one of life’s simple pleasures.

I have learned an important lesson. If someone you care enough about to write a real letter to, stuffs it in with the rest of the mail pile, or in my case at the bottom of the bag they took to work every day, they aren’t worth the ink. But you don’t learn this unless  you make the effort.

 It’s  these very personal, very thoughtful letters that we all feel special about when we receive them from the people  we love. I rip open my bills and do a mental calculation before going on to cook dinner or take my child to a practice. But it’s  the letters that I set aside and look forward to at the end of the day. I make a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine, open the letter, and get lost in the bliss of friendship or romance that has come in the small envelope. If I’m lucky, it’s both!

The Box Tops “The Letter” lyrics speak to the power and romantic spirit that we have always ascribed to letters from our sweethearts;

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to baby again
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more
Anyway, yeah!

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

If you’re broken-hearted and miss your sweetie, often the grounds are tested on the basis of how an email or text is received; “Can we talk?”, “I miss you.”, “I’m sorry.”, “I’m the world’s biggest idiot, but I’ll get help.”  The will to reach out and test the waters determines whether or not you ‘got to get back to your baby once-a-more’…. I’m sure without a letter or two and some cutesy panties,  none of us would have made it into this world.

Today the reaction is often instant. You know they got the digital message almost as soon as you hit send. In the good old days of snail mail, there was the agony and ecstasy of hope, dread, and wonderful expectation. Now we experience those emotions in a nano-second. I prefer a well thought-out hand-written letter for the good stuff, as do the other gentle ladies out there.

This weekend take a bit of a risk. Write a letter to the woman who makes your heart skip a beat. Just think of how happy she’ll be when she opens the mailbox to something more personal than a pile of sales flyers. AND, just think about how much time she’ll have to plan how she’ll express her amorous, possibly naked, gratitude.

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