Before I settle in to do some serious creative writing today, I must fulfill an obligation of friendship. I must escape the keyboard, and put pen to paper. I’ve been negligent of my duty to keep my friends abreast of my girl-news via proper letter writing.
My mailman hates me. You see, my mailbox doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.
I only make visits bi-weekly to clear out the junk mail; real estate flyers, fast-food coupons, and annoying letters from our Conservative political rep. Buh-arf.
On occasion there’s a little treat in the mailbox. My friend in Newfoundland will take time to write a letter, despite her aching hands, and my gal-pal in the great-white-north, The Amazing C, will take time from her busy family life, writing to me about the things that matter to her (on sparkly paper no less).
There is something about the feel of a hand-written letter that’s so much different from something we type at our worn-out keyboards. There’s something about anticipating what’s inside the envelope, taking time to sit and savour the words that someone dear to us has thought to put on a piece of paper. There’s something about knowing that someone cared enough to get off their spectacular tushie and find a mailbox.
Perhaps it’s because I’m such a tactile person that I so enjoy holding that letter in my hands. Perhaps it’s because I’m a lover of words that I take so much pleasure from being able to read a dear one’s thoughts. Regardless, I do believe that the alchemy of letter writing is a stronger connection than digital light flashing and dying, being able to be turned off instead of being placed in my bedside drawer where a letter can be unfolded and read during those nights when sleep is somewhere far, far away, and my mind won’t be still.
The problem with letter writing is that it takes a bit of time. Not only do I type much faster than I write, but letter writing requires stationary, a pen, a stamp. It requires getting out of the house and finding a post box. It requires the person on the other end to get their mail, open the letter, and pause to take in the news that was so important it had to be written down.
I’ve been terrible with my letters during the past two months. The speed of life has whisked away all but the essential functions; work, eat, sleep and work again. This is the first weekend I’ve been able to stop for more than 24 hours and catch my breath.
When my Newfie friend sent a text saying he was in town, I realized that I’d yet to write to his wife about the new love in my life. I kept thinking; This requires a letter. This requires her to stop, get a cup of tea, snuggle up in her chair, and take in the words that I had married together to tell her my thoughts and feelings, and how my life had changed. Communicating in a letter is the closest thing that I could do to sitting down together in her living room and seeing her eyes light up or fill with tears as I told her about my losses and my love.
Alas, time passes quickly when it’s not my own. Before I could do a damn thing about it darlings, her hubby was at my door and shaking hands with Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful of course thinking that if he were indeed that wonderful, why hadn’t I mentioned him to some of my closest friends.
I’m sure my pal on the east-coast is wondering the same thing.
All I can say is, sometimes it’s worth waiting to spread really good news. Sometimes, when it comes to the kindred spirits of true friendship, it’s worth making the effort to make the news as special as the story of your life actually is.
This rainy Saturday is a wake-up call, shaking me and telling me to catch up on some of the things that I’ve been too busy for, for far too long.
I had just settled in with a sweet, juicy, orange, cup of tea, and a totally empty page when there came a very light, very short tap at my front door.
For two full seconds I debated whether to disturb my cozy position to answer, and then popped up to see who was there. No one.
Just a box on the threshold. From the thick black ink used to write my address, I knew that it was a care package from the Amazing Ms. C.
My faithful pal, the Amazing Ms.C is fabulously insane in so many ways, I can’t possibly love her enough. She is a couponer extraordinaire, and has a taste for comical,twisted, jack-ass inspired vengeance that only rivals my own.
I cut open the layers of packing to tape to find a plethora of her couponer-freebies (including amongst other things body cooling wipes for hot flashes, perfume samples, miniature crystal ball decorations, a full-sized tube of toothpaste, laundry and dish soap, herbal tea, and a full-sized mascara which I hope doesn’t give me eye fungus).
Thoughtfully wrapped up in a Virginia Peanut box was a cup and saucer set purchased at a second-hand store. For $2.00 the Amazing Ms. C has given me at least a full month of pleasure.
You see, I’m going to take the tea-cup to work, and teetotal around the office – saucer included – in the most sincere of proper-British-tea-drinking-ways. As a writer, witnessing people’s reactions is my study. The new tea-cup will be an interesting prop. It should distract me from some of the less pleasant realities of having to work for a living.
The Amazing C also sent a total of 22 coupons. 10 for Durex Play lubricant or/Toy. 10 for condoms. I didn’t even know that the local big box store/ pharmacy started to sell sex toys on the shelf. I can’t even begin to express how wrong that is.
I may just leave them at the coupon exchange counter tomorrow morning when I go out to buy my Saturday Globe and fresh baguette.
Perhaps a better idea is to see if I can use them all at once, purchase the Durex ‘toy’, and just see what kind of quality is being offered in over-the-counter sales, next to the opaque caged cigarette display. Seriously folks, we’re being legislated like stepford-citizens…but I digress.
One item included in the package that is sure to garner further posts for my faithful female and male followers alike is a book. The Amazing Ms. C looks out for my intellectual development too!
“Boyfriend Wisdom; Timeouts, Tantrums and Other Tips for Dating Guys Who Act Like Toddlers”, will surely be an intellectually stimulating read for a simple country gal like me.
I have to admit, getting creative with the time-outs kind of has me needing those body-cooling-hot-flash wipes. Yes sirree!
That’s what girlfriends are for – brightening your day. Whenever I speak to the Amazing Ms. C, we share a laugh, and uncensored conversation about unspeakable physical ailments, acts and afflictions.
In your lifetime, you will only ever find a handful of friends you can be so uncensored with, and those friends, my juicy little kumquats, are the keepers.
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.