I used to receive many letters and cards, letters from my father when he lived abroad, letters from my friends after I left them and moved to Norway, letters from the one/ones who I was in love with, and Christmas and birthday cards containing long texts from a good friend who lives in the UK and who I haven´t seen since I left the country 18 years ago. I still have contact with many of them but through other channels, Messenger and text messaging in particular. Letters just ceased to come, I can´t remember when I received my last letter, it must’ve been ages now. I´ve contributed to the development of this “letter-less” society as I´m one of those who don´t write letters anymore. (P.s. I did write a kind of letter last summer but I´m afraid that it might not be counted as a letter, it was more like a very long note and I didn’t post it but passed it to that person who was supposed to read it.)
I lived in Leeds when I was studying my first degree, I wasn’t a particular sociable person so I often found myself in the library or my dorm room when I didn’t have classes. I must have felt terribly lonely on that Sunday morning, and that feeling then triggered the impulsive act of formulating the thoughts on paper, a piece of paper in light-purple. The addressee was the kind owner of the bakery I worked for before I moved to England. You might wonder why the only letter I wrote in England was sent to her and not someone in my family. Well, I don´t have a good reason for that, it was just that her warm smile and gentle supportive words suddenly popped up in my mind and reinforced that feeling, a longing for home. In the letter I told her about my life in Leeds, and how I was doing with my studies. Many years later, when we were having a coffee in the cafe at the main train station, I was told how pleasantly surprised she was when she received the letter.
When I was having a clear-up in my house some time ago, I found a card which I received from the only friend I made in the UK, just a few days before my departure. I certainly didn’t realise how deep the thoughts were when I first read it, but when rereading it 18 years later, the implicit message, the sadness expressed over someone’s departure became apparent. There was so much care and concern that had been left unnoticed all these years.
However, I rarely reread old letters as I try to avoid getting sentimental, especially when the affection expressed in the letters has definitely become the past.
Receiving a handwritten letter has become a luxury, we´ve long passed the Shakespeare´s time while affection was most likely expressed through lengthy and personal letters. Will my children receive love letters, like those I received which made me feel cherished and being loved? Will they be bothered to sit down in a dark corner and declare love by turning their thoughts into words? Or will they just text a few sentences together with some emojis to the ones they fall in love with? It’s hard to tell, but I hope they’ll rediscover the pleasure of writing a letter, sealing the envelope and then putting a stamp on it. It’s a magical process, isn’t it?
(This post is particularly dedicated to Liv and Paul, thank you both for making my life a more meaningful one.)