Letter writing is a lost art. In the olden days receiving a letter was a momentous occasion. It may be the only link to a loved one who’s now many miles away. It might be a soldier who’s off to war, or a prospector who’s gone out west to a gold rush in search of his fortune, or maybe someone who’d left everything behind to seek freedom and opportunity in the new world, or maybe a letter from mom and dad after they’ve shipped you off to summer camp. To the homesick, a letter is like a life preserver tossed from home.
Somehow, written words are more intimate and heartfelt than texts, zooms, emails or face-timeing. There’s a formality of ink meeting paper, there’s something unique about thoughts laid out in black and white—–it’s like letting someone peer into the corners of your mind, to hear your voice, the timber, the rhythm and the flow of words being enunciated—-It’s like being given wings when standing on a collapsing bridge.
Written letters are saved in old shoeboxes or under well worn mattresses. It would be a foolish thing to throw away someones words and thoughts. Letters are snapshots of moments in time. They can be pulled out and reread and given life again. It’s like placing the needle of a phonograph on a favorite song. You can pick the letter up and smell its scent, imagining the hand that sealed the envelope. I once had a girlfriend who’d put on lipstick and then leave an imprint of her kiss on the letters she’d send me. She’d spray perfume on the stationary and leave “X’s” and “O’s” next to her name. It was a virtual hug and kiss.
I’d always carefully put my letters back in their envelopes and then place them in a box I dedicated to these precious communications. Most folks won’t let you into their world the way a letter can. A well written letter requires time and attention to create a composition that expresses what is laying dormant beneath ones tongue.
We’re all adrift on a vast ocean of loneliness and a letter is like a bright red flair against an ebony sky. It begs the questions—- Can you see me? Do you hear me?—Please don’t forget me?
Victor S. Uriz II