I slid my middle finger into the crevice and began gently opening the envelope; trying my best not to rip it in half.
My fat fingers have a tendency to ruin any task that requires a gentle separation of paper and adhesive. Whether it’s tape, glue, or that weird sticky stuff they put on the back of gift cards, there’s little chance any portion of the paper is going to remain intact if I’m the one pulling it apart.
It wasn’t until I had flipped the envelope back around to the front side that I realized I just opened the bottom.
Oh well, no problem. It’s just the protective travel case; disposable luggage for your hand delivered message. I was after the real treasure anyway – the gold that was contained within its folded edges.
It was a handwritten letter.
I love it.
Even before I mangled the no 10. envelope I knew what that tiny paper package contained. My heart began to race, my face contracted the muscles necessary to form a smile, and I released tiny bits of joy in the form of random chuckles. I was as giddy as a school boy.
The return address gave away the identity of the sender and I knew I was in for a treat. It was from my former roommate T-Pain.
We’ll use his birth name, Tyler, to avoid any confusion with the rapper T-Pain, whom I am not actually friends with.
Seeing how Tyler and I shared 2 ½ years of our lives together, I figured he would know how to spell my name correctly.
There’s only one apostrophe and it’s in my last name. I forgive you.
I pulled out the letter, took a deep breath and began reading…
“What a pleasant surprise to get a handwritten note from you in the mail… I don’t have crazy fancy “printer” paper like you, but the ole college ruled should do just fine.”
Just like Tyler, always rubbing it in my face that he’s in college and they have special paper there. I get it, you’re smart. It was nice to hear that he enjoyed my letter though (it was a product of The Radical Appreciation Project).
“You really don’t have to thank me for letting you be my friend! But you do have to pay me – I’ve told you numerous times.”
Damnit. I forgot that I closed my old checking account so the automatic draft must have been cancelled. What a swell guy to remind me.
“Do you know what will happen if you don’t pay?… (this is where I would insert a link of Stewie kicking Brian’s ass for not repaying his loan, but I’m hand writing this shit. No wonder no one does this anymore.”
While I appreciate the descriptive use of words, I don’t think Tyler realized he could have downloaded the video, burned it to DVD or put it on VHS and sent it with the letter. I mean come on, how lazy can some people get? But again, it was nice of him just to send me a special little note.
It was the next portion of the letter that really got me choked up. I took a step back in time and strapped on my reminiscing helmet as Tyler unveiled a long list of memorable experiences we shared together…
“I loved eating acai bowls on the beach wall, POINT GUARDING at the OB rec w/dish glove hands, listening next to the wall and hearing the glorious sounds of boning and wishing it was me (lucky Kristi)…”
I mean, we were close friends, and only two thin sheets of ½” dry wall and a few 2×4 studs separated our beds. I didn’t mind that he listened in, as long as the 2 page summary of the previous night’s events was typed up and on my desk by 10 AM the next morning. I’m all about innovation and taking it to the next level; Tyler knew that.
I was sad to see only a small bit blue ink left on the paper. But like all good things, even this letter had to end.
“I’ve included a pic I took from New Years in Tahoe – enjoy. All I did was ask the one chick if I could take her picture and she started making out with the girl she was with…
See you in 4 weeks!
Could be one of the best conclusions to a letter I’ve ever received. Granted the photo was printed on standard paper and came out a little dark and pixilated, but an A+ for effort is in order.
Thank you Tyler for making me laugh, cry, and remember the great times in SD.
They’re inefficient, time consuming, and delivered at a snail’s pace.
But they tell me more than any text or email ever could. Hand written letters hold a special place in my heart. Something magical happens every time I pull out my Pentel R.S.V.P “fine” point pen and press it against a fresh piece of paper. It’s not just in the words that are written, but how they are written. Similar to when you speak, how you say something can drastically change the meaning of what you say…
Times New Roman is a clean font that’s easy to read and can be used by anyone; but Bob can’t print in Tyler’s handwriting. You can certainly smear your fingers all over the monitor if you want; but I assure you it won’t provide the same crisp feel as good ol’ college ruled paper. Putting pen to paper is raw, unfiltered thought flowing onto a blank white page. There is no delete button, undo feature or auto spell-check available. Mistakes are left for the reader to find, covered with white out, or crossed out ^and corrected with a carrot. Either way, there’s evidence that the writer is human; it’s pure.
Doodles can be placed in the margins, snake-like arrows can connect disjointed information, and custom fonts can be added on a whim. Each handwritten letter is unique. I get it, they’re not ideal for everyday use, and by no means should they replace email, text messages, or blog posts. Those forms of communication are better suited to reach a larger audience – faster.
But it’s not always about speed. It’s about enjoying the journey. Savoring each moment your writing utensil is in contact with that thin sliver of processed tree trunk laying on your desk or table. It’s an experience. A typed letter or card is certainly thoughtful, but it’s like buying a Van Gogh print instead of an original; nice to own and look at but wouldn’t you prefer and appreciate an original even more?
What the handwritten letter does best is convey a sense of importance – exclusivity. It means you value the relationship you have with this individual enough to spend the extra time thinking about what you’re going to write, how you’re going to write it, then physically writing it. It’s no secret, people notice when special attention and extra effort is put into something they receive.
Is there someone out there, someone you greatly appreciate who would love to receive a handwritten letter? You know what to do…
Enjoy The Journey
*Special thanks to all those who have sent me a handwritten letter in the last year – I love them all!