Sunday, 6 February 2011
Remembering a letter...
No, I mean a real paper letter in an envelope, that arrives in the mail, amid the ads and bills. A letter awaited, and checked for day after day, or a letter that arrives unexpectedly.
A letter can be tucked in a purse or pocket, and taken somewhere to read later...or ripped open and read on the spot, and then re-read again and again. Yes, there are a few letters one dreads to open...a note that's sure to be a "Dear John", or a letter that is sure to hold bad news or anger. But most letters, even short ones, are wonderful to find amid the otherwise dull mail.
Upstairs in my bedroom, there's a large binder filled with letters -- letters from friends while I was in high school and college. They pretty much stop at that point...e-mail took the place of letters. But there are wonderful treasures there...descriptions of new adventures, new boyfriends (or the dumping of old ones!), letters from two friends who were living in Europe and sent me descriptions so vivid I felt that I was there, exploring old streets and new works of art. Each letter carries the writer's handwriting, many are decorated with little drawings and last-minute added thoughts around the edges, with arrows pointing to where they would have gone. Had those letters been e-mails, they would have been long since deleted, or at very best (and even this is so rare) printed out and stored as impersonal print on a page.
I miss letters. I miss writing them, and I miss receiving them. I miss holding them, and re-reading them for details missed the first time around -- or the second. In the movie, at this moment, one of the characters, is reading a letter -- she's tucked in bed, pillows piled up high behind her, the lamp lit. She opens the envelope and with a wonderful sound of paper cracking, smiles and settles back to read. No Netbook or iPad on the planet can match that moment.