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NOV
17

Love Letters

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I had the chance earlier this month to see one of Carol Burnett's last performances in Love Letters. She's a hoot, but what has stuck with me since the show is the letter writing. We've all written letters, like maybe once or twice, to a childhood friend when we moved away or to a family member going through a rough patch, but that's not really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about years. I'm talking about sharing our lives with someone through regular written correspondence.

Love Letters is easily the simplest show I've ever seen on Broadway. It follows the lives of a man and woman using nothing more than the letters they wrote to each other over the course of a lifetime. From childhood birthday parties to the complexities and heartbreak of adulthood, they cry, they laugh, they dream, they hope, they hurt each other, they love each other. It's a show that really examines the power of such correspondence...especially in this abbreviated and instant society we live in. Think about the last time you actually wrote someone a letter. Was it this year? This decade?

I've had stints of this kind of correspondence....two of my siblings have spent multiple years abroad where the only way I could communicate with them was to write letters, and it's not just that the letters themselves act as a kind of journal for my life (and theirs) during those years, it's that this kind of communication really strengthens bonds. I find that I miss it, the letters. I miss having someone to write. I miss having something more substantial than bills and ads in my mailbox. Which is what prompted tonight's purchase on my rainy walk home. Some of you (I'd say about 80) will be getting letters. Feel free to write back.

JUN
10

Thank You For Writing

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I got home this evening from a very taxing day at work to find a thank-you note in my mailbox. You all know how I feel about thank-you notes. (See On Thank-you Notes if you've forgotten.) A dying art, surely, but one I feel is so, so necessary. It's just the principle of the thing. And it makes us decent.

Of course, no one is unfamiliar with the concept. You send someone a thank-you note when they have either given you something or done something for you. Which is why today's mail was a bit confusing. The woman who sent it--from my hometown in Oregon--included the following note in the card:

"I loved your first book. Always enjoy reading it. Have just read bits of your new one - just want to say thank you so much. I know I'll enjoy."

Now, you'd think from this note that I gave her a copy of my second book. Not only did I not give her a copy, but I also can't even put a face to this woman's name. I'm not sure I've even met her. Or if I have, it's been many years. But she sent a thank-you note to thank me for writing books. For giving her something to read that she enjoys so much. She wrote the note in loopy cursive, sealed and put my name on the envelope, then gave it to my mother who filled in my address and sent it on its way. The whole thing has an endearing amount of small-town charm regardless, but eclipsing this is the fact that upon returning home from a day when I managed to solve exactly zero problems at work, my spirits couldn't have been more lifted.

Unless there'd been, like, $1 Million in the mailbox. I guess there's always tomorrow.

JUN
12

Writing Letters

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It's a lost art, really. I remember one of my favorite things to receive as a child was stationary, all kinds, the more options I had to choose from the better. I remember exchanging letters with my little friends once I moved to Oregon, how excited I was when a letter arrived, how quickly I responded in the hopes that their responses would be just as quick. I remember how depressed I became one day when after opening the mailbox I found not a letter from one of my friends, but the letter I had put in the box the previous day, now with a note scribbled on the corner from the mailman: "Needs stamp." Epic fail. And now my forgetfulness had cost me a whole day.

Email has of course eliminated the old-fashioned letter almost entirely (as well as the company Christmas card), and now the days where I actually get a personal piece of mail are very rare. I'm sure we could all say the same thing. Which is why the last month has been a treat for me. I'm temporarily only able to communicate with my brother via letters, and in this day and age, what an experience that is. I look forward to his letters, knowing each one involved him taking the time to write out his thoughts on pen and paper. His handwriting, small and at times hard to read, is a piece of him, and at the risk of sounding gag-ably trite, I think there's something about writing letters that really bonds people. So write one. Today. And don't forget the stamp.

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