The modern mailbox is boring.
The daily ritual of walking or driving to the mailbox, flipping open the little door, to take out bills, political campaigns, philanthropic pleas, and magazines is no luxury of communication anymore, it’s a chore. No different than sweeping the kitchen or putting away the dishes.
What little mail we receive, we throw away or recycle, and with it, the dying art of letter writing.
I began writing letters when I was 17. Winter break was over and with the monotony of school beginning, I needed some sort of recreational activity that would keep me motivated. So, like any good student, I researched where to begin.
This led me to a website specifically designed to connect people looking for pen pals. It was perfect. I reached out to several people, and while some turned me down, some others greeted me with open arms. We exchanged information, decided who would send the first letter and wrote up our letter.
Then it was time to hurry up and wait.
Walk to the mailbox, open the little door, pull out the daily handful of junk mail, and amidst the darkness of paper waste was one perfect golden piece of snail mail.
It was from Italy.
The sender had carefully decorated the outside with little drawings and notes, placed a stamp and sent it 1000’s of miles to my own insignificant mailbox. It was a joyous day.
Now the physical beauty of snail mail should not be so lightly glossed over. It’s an evolving art, relying on the environment around it, molded by the hand of the sender.
In order to create an envelope, I often start with scrap paper, maybe even some redeemed piece of junk mail. From there, I paint and sew, gluing embellishments, cutting edges. The end piece should carry some flowing aesthetic, but if not, the snail mail world casts no judgment.
Delicate and durable, these envelopes will travel over continents and oceans, in shipping crates and post offices, all in the name of a lost art bringing light back into the world.
There is always a rush of adrenaline to answer a letter after receiving it. Though it is not a rushed process, I still feel the pang of immediacy to respond, even if my schedule doesn’t let me sit down and reply as quickly as I would like to.
Letters after letters exchanged result in a big box filled with stacks tied up in string. These are priceless to me.
There’s a stack for Italy too. Marina and I never stopped writing letters. While we may communicate daily over social media, the value of exchanging a physical letter is exponentially higher.
In a time where we are stuck in our houses, far away from making new acquaintances and memories, I’d like to invite you, dear reader, to the kind world of letter writing.
It’s a world full of possibility, and it’s patiently waiting.