Tuesday, 9 February 2016


I carry the letter inside, curious. I'm playing the guessing game usually reserved for Christmas and birthdays where you search the front for clues.

My name and address are handwritten, the stamp is first class, the envelope edges sealed shut with a protective layer of sellotape.

Inside there's a printed old style world map and two sheets of paper with the same design, writing covering each plain side.

Look, I say to my housemate, someone's sent me a proper letter
How cool, that's exciting, she replies, peering over, it's beautiful paper. Who's it from?

Details, details. The fact that there's a letter at all is enough.

For a while now I've been sending cards to my friends randomly throughout the year, just to say hello. Occasionally I get one back, but not very often.

And often, to be honest, that's not really the point.

Send all the emails, texts, and Whatsapp messages you like: there's nothing like a letter, not even close.

If you want to let someone know that you're thinking of them - really thinking, and you mean it - you should always write.

It doesn't even matter what you say.

Like when I wrote to someone on the other side of the world because I'd been feeling like an inadequate friend, but couldn't say as much or find the words.

I couldn't say "things are bad for me, so I'm struggling to be there for you" so I sent her two sheets of handwritten A4. Musings, random things, arbitrary stuff, and a bullet point list of things that are good.

But this letter is different, it does a better job of getting to the point than I could be brave enough to do.

It's the sort of letter you send when you won't see the person for a while, a level of honesty you might get to in the early hours of the morning, on a big night, but drifts into fuzzy memory the next day.

It's rare, the sort of letter you imagine yourself getting one day but don't ever think you will: a proper one, full of nice things: encouragement, observations, appreciation, advice.

I don't know where to put it, so I keep it in plain sight: on the table, next to my bed.

And in this time when so many messages are sent quickly, filed, pushed down by newer things and forgotten, I know that this one will be kept.

Aside from everything inside it, it's handwirtten, and designed to be re-read.


Pink Jellybaby said...

I recently bought some cute note paper to start writing little letters to my 4yo niece. I don't see her enough and love the thought of her growing up having letters from her Aunt. Reading this though, I might start doing it with more people. It's something we used to do as teenagers, write letters to friends about boys we like and things but perhaps it's something I should do more now as an adult.

Around My Kitchen Table said...

You're so right. Emails etc just don't cut it. Here today and gone tomorrow. There's something much more "worthy" (for want of a better word) and permanent about letters.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

PJB - you should write more letters. It's quite therapeutic, too, more so than texts or emails.

Around - I've got a box of them I read through every now and then, they're so much more personal than anything else.


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