Friday, May 11, 2012
Although I don't have any "collections" (too much clutter, take up too much space, too much dusting involved) I have managed to collect pretty much every piece of snail mail I've ever received. Of course, I didn't save junk mail or just anything that arrived in my mailbox-- it had to be something that was hand written from someone I knew. At one time, I had birthday cards from when I was young, notes that were passed in middle school, and long letters from first boyfriends (gag). A few years ago (nine, to be exact) I went through many of these cards and notes and tossed the ones that I didn't really ever want to read again. You know the kind... The ones that make you feel queasy in your stomach because you were once so..... young? And said such...... inappropriate/ mean/ weird/ misinformed/ immature/ (need I go on?) things. And I really didn't want to read notes explaining why my best friends were mad at me or how much my boyfriend loved me or how crazy my parents were ever again.
But I hung onto a few--as in an entire Rubbermaid container full--see right-->
And lately (of course) I've been organizing them into a more .... organized (?) pile. I love the letters and cards I received from my sister when she was in high school and I was away at college. I love the letters I have from the friends I made while working at Camp-- and the letters I received from my hometown friends while I was at Camp. I love the letters my dad wrote when he would send me my monthly U-Bill check (remember life before direct deposit?). I love the notes my mom would leave me before she left for the weekends to attend her college classes. I love the letters from my Great Grandma Ella, who, ironically, lived most of her life in the same county that I currently live. I love the letters from my aunts-- two in particular (Aunt Trisha & Auntie San) who were particularly good about communicating with their little niece. I also love the letters I have from friends--especially when we were in our separate places during the summer months of college.
As I was rummaging through these letters, I suddenly got sad that we just don't write letters anymore. Of course, it's fun to get the letters in the mailbox, but you also have something that captures time for a moment. Unlike our personal diaries or journals or blog posts, the letters we receive are written from someone else's view. So we get to see what is (at the time) pertinent information to them, what's interesting about our own lives (to them), and a tiny glimpse at how they view the world and it's happenings. As I re-read the letters from my college friends, I thought about memories that I had completely forgotten (or maybe suppressed) and people that I rarely think about now. I was instantly take back to a time in my life that seems sooooo far away from the present. I was also a little humbled by how amazing my friends are. I felt a wave of awe as I read such funny, insightful, heartbreaking, honest, caring, worried, and concerned letters from my friends. And I'm so thankful that their emotions were captured in writing, and tucked into an envelope for me to look through again and again.
I feel a little sad for "the youth of today" ('cuz I'm an old lady) who will probably not have an entire Rubbermaid container of snail mail letters to re-read someday. It's not that I don't think kids express themselves and their feelings to their friends today-- it's just done differently. It's done in two second text messages, or facebook posts, or tweets. It's done constantly throughout the day. And believe me, I LOVE getting a fun text--especially when I'm having a doozy of a day. But, in 20 years, I don't think I'm going to be sorting through my old text messages (and probably trying to decode them) or glancing through facebook posts of what people ate for dinner. And in many ways, a lot of 'what happened' will have been lost. And for that, I am a little sad.