It’s a piece of paper and ink. It’s your hand gliding in patterned flicks. It’s asking the material to transport the ineffable. A magic show – a feather-light vessel for intent. It’s a letter, from a heart in one geographical reality to the distant next.
I can’t recall when I first fell in love with writing letters. If there’s a main suspect, I would point to the time my best friend’s family moved to another state while we were still in high school. I’d never had a best friend before, at least not like Hannah. I didn’t know what to do with all of the missing, so I began to write. Simple facts at first, “I miss you.” “I hope you’re well.” “This really sucks.” Over time, my facts became admissions, “I’m afraid of how lonely I usually feel,” “Thank you for making me feel seen.” Slowly, that current that exists between two people – the flow of feeling and possibility – it reappeared. Though miles and miles apart, I had my friend back.
Love is better written down. A proof. A tactile hope. Words that you can touch. I’ve been fortunate to find friends from random corners of this earth, but in their distance, a perpetual longing. Thankfully at that young age, I learned the cure, and a passion. When you write someone a letter, you peel back the constraints of distance, time, and invite them to share your living moments.
The time I was reconnecting with someone from my past:
On a subway platform to go into the city and get my blonde touched up... ahh, the gentle lies we live. Sorry it’s been so long since my last letter. Feeling on the level of depressed /out-of-it where you’re surprised you remembered to shave your legs. Or brush your teeth. Everything feels like effort.”
The time someone dear to me was far away:
I am writing to you, barely able to hold a pen because it is so freezing. Have you heard, Russia is cold in winter? Unfathomable. I couldn’t even sleep, I kept waking up shivering. Finally I started dancing to stay warm. Pathetic sleepy moves. Wish you could’ve joined the rave. Now I’m outside on a break. If my fingers snap off while I'm writing this, I guess I won’t be able to do my job and they’ll just send me home to you. I’ll take the chance, either way I win.“
The time I was falling for my neighbor:
What’s more fun than hidden notes on rainy nights? I hope you step inside and rest. Unfurl. Expand with each deep inhale. I like this a lot, you know – this getting to know you.”
The time I was heartbroken in a new city:
These words are traveling from the opposite coast, soaring to your temporary home. This, now, is a moment that will pass. Not to be erased. It will just take new shape. We’ll both look back on it – down from the mountain we’ll continue to climb and say… whoa."
I have a large plastic box under my bed. It holds priceless treasures – polaroids of my dog as a puppy. My unopened copy of Taylor Swift’s “Fearless.” A coaster from the restaurant where I went on my first date with my girlfriend. The twenty-two parking tickets I got the first year I lived in NYC. It’s so heavy I have to fight with all my might to force it out whenever I’m feeling nostalgic. Among my most prized… hundreds of letters. Each one like a geo-pin drop from that time in my life. Who I was and who the person writing me was – the moment we belonged to. Where we were, what we reached for, evidence of these lives.
Over the years I began the habit of decoration. Pagentry. Collage. Words became the foundation, and my painted pages and glue-sticked magazine bits the interior design. It's one thing to send a letter, it's another to send a mood: dried flowers strapped down with clear moving tape, stickers like I robbed a toy store, and glitter when the ocassion called.
It's not a profession, not even entirely a hobby, but I craft letters to the people in my life because it's the straightest path I know from my heart to theirs. It brings me immeasurable joy, this authorship, this writing, as if sharing snapshots of our precious and fleeting time on this earth. Life, to be revealed, but certainly not contained within these colorful pages and holy written hellos.