When was the last time you wrote a letter? On paper?
When I was in highschool, I had approximately 300 penpals, due to an ad I took out in some now forgotten punk rock magazine. I hadn’t expected it to even be published, and then my dad came home from the post office one day with a bag of letters. For me. And for the next month, every day featured bags that got more full, finally tapering down to a reasonable one or two notes a day. I tried to answer them all, but eventually could only keep up with about 10.
There was a whole culture to this underground pen pal thing. I received ‘zines and tapes to pass on and chain letters of a most hilarious variety (Send this to five people and Robert Smith will put his pointed boot into Debbie Gibson’s face). We sent each other photos of ourselves, our rooms, our friends at school, our lives that were soooooo boring. We tried to outdo each other in our quest to confuse the post office, with stamps in the wrong place (or reused by painting the stamp with glue and then washing it off to remove the post mark) and envelopes covered with artwork and collages. As we learned the cultural obsessions and pop crushes of each other, the mail goodness would become more personalized. After a while, most of the letters sent to me were covered with some version of Dave Gahan or Michael Hutchence with bedroom eyes. (After finding that link for Mr. Gahan, guess what? Yup, still think he’s hot. Maybe I’ll always be goth at heart.). For a girl growing up in a conservative small town (BEFORE the internet), these faraway friends helped me to feel connected, to feel less isolated, to feel hope.
For those of you who blog, some of this may sound familiar. Indeed, I have been reminded of my highschool experience every time I find a kindred spirit online. When I first began, I noticed a trend of sending care packages and marveled at how dear and precious the idea was. I hoped it would become part of my blog world, and then I became friends with this girl. What I didn’t realize was that sending parcels to internet pals was a slippery slope. Or that I would begin to feel addicted to it. If too long a time goes by without my putting things in little piles to send off, I start to feel like I am forgetting something.
Recently, adding spice to the usual pile of bills for student loans, I received two bundles of care from lands far away.
Teeny in New Zealand sent beauty that went above and beyond. I wish I had been quicker with the camera when the package came, since the pile of pretty rags she sent immediately went into outfit production, and I couldn’t round them all up to document. Let’s just say I felt very lucky to feel so acutely observed.
Shirt, belt (she MADE it!) and bag (made that one too!!) from Ms. Sparkles.
Let’s take a closer look at my new favorite bag (it included a little note “Made by Teeny for Mary”, and is made from a bedspread and gaudy in just the way I LOVE.)
Also included was a robot marble bag for Leo and this amazing necklace for Fern.
Then two weeks later this arrived.
Sara in Turkey sent me seeds (shhh! Don’t tell customs!), and little bits that felt like receiving glimpses of her forestlass spirit.
Sara has an etsy store where I have admired her creations, including these earrings from Steve the turkey.
I’ve worn them every day since they arrived.
One thing that is different with blogging from old fashioned pen pals is the weight and substance of the communication, literally. Cares and affections written and sent through the invisible threads of the world wide web are intangible. Often they feel like direct transmissions into the heart or mind, so they have their own acuteness. Yet, they can sometimes feel illusory. A hand written letter, where you can see the penmanship and trace where the hand met the paper is startling in its intimacy in this day and age. It is all at once confirming of the feelings of friendship, and also a reminder that there are so many things I don’t know at all about these kind souls.
What I do know is how blessed I feel to know you (all of you, each and every one). You have my heartfelt thanks, uttered by a tongue sticky with envelope glue.