Snapshots from Green Victoria (tedwords) wrote,
Snapshots from Green Victoria
tedwords

Straight from the Heart

"What's your address again? I want to start writing you letters."

It's a marvelous message to get, really, and the person who sent me that note is one of my favorite writers from Live Journal ever (and a damn good writer, period.) So, naturally, I sent my address her way.

Since then, the letters she's sent me...which I'm looking at, all lined up in a pile, as I type this...have been a steady stream for the past six months. Every time I get one...well, I smile. It makes me feel good to know that someone thinks enough of me to send off pieces of themselves in this way.

Yes, pieces. Letters are different than emails or journal entries or blog posts, I think. The act of writing and sending a letter is so much more intimate, so much more direct, so much more effort. Pen in hand, in your handwriting, in your voice, thoughts set to paper, you create prose that (usually) only one other person will ever read. How great is that?

We don't do that so much, these days.

I don't do that so much, ever, these days. Aside from my tacky little Christmas cards, I can't remember the last letter I sent out. Oh, wait! Yes, yes, I do. It was to my sister Laurie. She had this idea that we might get a bit closer if we started writing to each other. This was shortly after my separation to Josie. She wrote me, I returned the favor. She wrote again and the letter she sent was a bit more...well, snarkier, as I recall. She started talking why we weren't close at all. Embarrassed, I waited eight months to send her a return letter. She never wrote back, after that.

It wasn't always like that, though. In college, I was the best letter writer in the world. It was a natural extension of all the notes I used to pass in high school. In high school, I was also the best note passer in the world. I had a special way of folding them and everything.  I probably sent hundreds in my time, to all my girl friends. Kim, Debbie F, Debbie G, MaBu, Pauloo. Also, notes to Steven, my senior year, during those months we were acting out our kabuki love affair. Truly, how gay is that?

When I graduated, of course, I couldn't turn off that spigot so easily. So, I whittled down my list to those people I absolutely had to keep in touch with, bought some damn nice stationary at Hallmark, and embarked upon a two-year letter writing campaign. During my first year of college, while I was caught in that uneasy transition between the old world I grew up in and the new world I was creating, this link to the past really helped.

It didn't hurt that I worked in the campus library and had a lot of free time on my hands, either. 

Entering into my sophomore year, my personal correspondence started to slow to a trickle. I left the library, took a job at a convenience store. The change in jobs left my flush with financial success...ten cents more an hour will do that to you. I starting finding my way into a new world. Started losing connections with the old. Pauloo transferred to the same college I went to, meaning I didn't need to write to her any more. MaBu met a guy who didn't care for either Pauline or me and we lost touch with her, for a time. Kim and I lost touch, Debbie up and got married. The reasons for writing became fewer and farther between. 

Now it's two decades later, and my letter writing skills have grown incredibly rusty. But, true to her word, the letters from JM have been coming, and with each letter received, the need to take pen to hand has steadily increased. Call it Catholic guilt, call it what you will. What's amazing to me is that it's taken me so long to get to the store and pick up some stationary.

This past Sunday was the day, though. The purchase was made. I now have stationary in hand. I now have no excuse. Tonight, after Corb goes to bed (after he finishes "Quantum of Solace"), I will dive in and dash off my first hand-written missive in years. At such a late time, I can only hope that you can decipher my writing, my dear JM.

As I'm typing this, another memory bubbles to the surface. From the play Love Letters, a two-person show I've performed with my dear friend Psychic Sue on several occasions. A love letter to the art of writing letters, to the art of writing, to the passage of time between friends. And my favorite line, the one that always made the biggest impression on me, time and again?

"This letter, which I'm writing with my own hand, with my own pen, in my own penmanship, comes from me and no one else, and is a present of myself to you. It's not typewritten, though I've learned how to type. There's no copy of it, though I suppose I could use a carbon. And it's not a telephone call, which is dead as soon as it is over. No, this is just me, me the way I write, the way my writing is, the way I want to be to you, giving myself to you across a distance, not keeping or retaining any part of it for myself, giving this piece of myself to you totally, and you can tear me up and throw me out, or keep me, and read me today, tomorrow, any time you want until you die."

See? Pieces. A. Gurney got it perfectly correct. I think it's a good thing, to start writing letters, once again.

End game: the deed is done, the letter written. Now, if I could only find some stamps...

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