Friday, March 14, 2014

Reviving the lost art of letter writing

When I was in elementary school, I had a pen pal in Ohio. I remember waiting excitedly every day for a letter from her in my mailbox. I'd greedily read the information she'd written, anxious to learn about her life, her friends, her family, her school. I don't remember exactly when we stopped writing to each other. I think I just became interested in other things and that element of my life slipped away.

When I graduated high school, I went away to a university while my boyfriend stayed home and went to the community college nearby. We talked every day on the phone and wrote emails back and forth and he visited me whenever we were both available for a weekend, but the one thing that I actually enjoyed about being separated from him was the fact that we wrote and mailed letters back and forth.

I don't think I ever really forgot about letter writing. I simply didn't know anyone far enough away to write to and figured there wasn't a reason to write to someone close enough to see every day.

Recently I found myself temporarily in a situation where I could only communicate with a person that I loved via mailed letters. In doing so, I found that love of correspondence reawakened and when the situation was over, I missed the excitement that came with checking the mail and finding a pretty envelope waiting with my name on it and a glimpse into the other person's world hiding inside.

Craving that feeling sent me on a Google search for "adult pen pals." I fully expected to find a mess load of sites full of people searching for dirty exchanges with exotic men and women from all over the world. I was surprised when the first one I clicked was quite the opposite. Snail Mail Pen Pals for Adults seemed to have mostly people, like me, simply searching for new friends who also miss the childhood days of writing to a pen pal.

I signed up and within a few hours had six different addresses of women, roughly my age, from all sorts of places. Some of them were within the US and others were in Greece, Germany and the UK. I immediately grabbed my box of stationary and started penning letters to them all.

This was several months ago, and I've now got four regular pen friends who I've been writing back and forth with. One is in Michigan, two in Germany, one in Greece and one in New Jersey. And I love it! They don't know anything more about me than what I tell them in my letters and I know the same about them. I love that we can speak honestly with each other and that I am getting a glimpse into life in a different part of the country or the world.

Did you have a pen pal when you were a kid? Do you wish you still had one?

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