Saturday, March 26, 2011

Letter Perfect

So I tried to send this card to my friend L.  She'd mailed me a lovely New Years-cum-late-February missive, a postcard featuring a print she'd done herself.  I wanted to actually send something physical in return, as opposed to this all this electronic noisemaking.  It's not that I don't correspond by mail anymore: it's that I don't correspond, period.  Somehow, the immediacy of electronic interaction, the 24-hour free-for-all, releases you from the obligation of exchange.  Where you used to pass, like a torch, information between you,  now there's the fluorescent glow of Facebook.

I used to have correspondents.  Did you?   I owned a hand-sized, leather-bound address book containing the names of all the classmates and campmates and balletomanes from whom I could possibly wring personal information.   Over the years I crossed out some folks (don't throw water balloons and expect to keep your place in the J's) and penciled in others (all those girls from England, with their stringy hair and miscegenating letters and numbers for postal codes).  But, at least until high school, I had people upon whom to inflict my handwriting, my sticker collection, my loyalty.

My card to Lily was the first I've mailed in a while.  I stuck it between the teeth of the mailbox one morning and found it in the backyard five days later, wind-bitten and wet through.   I opened it up, dried it out, found a new envelope, and tried again.  I want to believe that, even now, even when we can travel without maps, announce without speaking, watch without being watched, we can still write to one another.

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