The Slow Road

The other day I decided I should write more letters. Who knows why. I wrote it on my list of things I want to think about and do more, and then forgot about it.

Until this morning. I woke up and I was going to write in my journal but I had left it downstairs and I didn’t want to go get it (and yes, I have four or seven or ninety other journals but this is the one I’m using RIGHT NOW which is why it was in my purse [oh god it’s the second time I’ve used the word ‘purse’ in a week and I hate that word — mostly because of the letter ‘u’ — have we had this conversation before?] In fact just yesterday I bought a new, hardcover, spiral bound journal with owls all over it, mostly because it was 75% off the regular price, so, $4, but also mostly because I HAVE A NOTEBOOK PROBLEM) so I found some paper in my desk drawer and I decided I would write a letter to my friend, my former pen-pal, Melissa, who lives in Wisconsin. I have Melissa’s address, and her phone number; in fact we are Facebook friends but we hardly ever communicate. Not that we have to, because we have one of those magical friendships that just picks up where you tossed it.

I wrote Melissa a letter — it was her birthday last week — and put it in an envelope and put a couple of stamps on it and tucked it into my purse (OH GOD HELP ME THAT’S THREE) and went about my business for the rest of the morning.

Later, I was doing something and I thought,

“Oh, I wonder if Melissa has replied to my letter yet.”

It took me a full thirty seconds to remember that I hadn’t even put SHOES on yet, let alone had the several necessary days (months?) passed required for Melissa to have received, read, and replied to my letter.

The Internet has ruined my ability to delay gratification. (It’s OK, the Internet has given me a lot of things in return.)

I used to have many pen pals. I used to write letters to my friends in Italy, Australia and America (did I ever tell you I had a penpal in California named Elizabeth Lemon IT’S TRUE!) and then pine for weeks while I waited for them to write back. I needed that many pen pals, you see, so that I could get a letter from someone every couple of weeks.

There was Virginia, the sweet, innocent girl in Melbourne. Last I heard from her she was in her teens and working at McDonald’s.
There was Stacy, a boy, who couldn’t spell worth a damn but wanted to be a graffiti artist. He wrote my name on a wall in Australia. He spelled it right.
There were Vincenzo and Maxi, who were both Italian. I am friends with them on Facebook. Believe it.
There was another girl in Australia who was pretty awesome and I think her name was Vanessa.

Now I have instant pen friends. I have twitter and facebook and google+ and this blog. When I was adding people to my circles on google+ I realized that only 10% of the people in my electronic network are people I have actually smelled.

Which is cool. I bet all you pretend people smell great.

Anyway, I like writing letters. I like the surprise of envelopes with strange handwriting on them. I like forgetting you’ve written someone and then hearing back from them. It’s like taking a roll of photos to the drugstore for developing. What’s on that roll of film? You can’t just turn the camera around, you have to wait like a dog waits for its dinner.

Which is not a ‘times were better when we didn’t have The Email’ sentiment. Number one: I don’t miss back when. (more on that another day) Number two: I love The Email. It is a great replacement for The Phone. But not so much for The Letter, maybe?

I have a few more sheets of fantastic Barbapapa note paper left (seriously, I wrote that post SEVEN YEARS ago and I was even THEN trying not to buy more notebooks, holy hell. I have a problem). If you would like a letter from me, email your address to torturedpotato at gmail dot com. I promise to write (and not to use too many parentheses.)

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