Letter writing is a lost art form in today’s instant messaging world. I, personally, think it should make a comeback. Before the invention of email, social media and texting, the go-to method for staying in touch was the letter. Whether writing thank you notes for a gift, a postcard from vacation, a “Dear John or Jane” saying see-ya, a job rejection, or even a college acceptance – if you had something to share – good or bad – you wrote it in a letter.
But have you ever written someone a letter and wondered whatever happened to it? Was it read and then throw away? Was it kept, and if so, why? And were some letters ever read at all? I remember keeping a shoebox full of job rejection letters I received after college. It was a big shoebox. I eventually burned them once I got a job. I also think I kept some “love” letters from ex-boyfriends. That stack wasn’t as big.
I recently reconnected with a long-lost friend (from 25 years ago to be exact) when he contacted me via LinkedIn (naturally!). Apparently I wrote him a letter all those years ago upon learning of his engagement. For whatever reason known only to him, he kept it!
My purpose was to tell him how happy I was for his upcoming marriage and how sad I was that we probably wouldn’t be hanging out as friends anymore. I included funny anecdotes about our friendship and all the good times we had (like our hilarious first date), shared poignant philosophical observations (mainly about him), and even included a poem that I thought best represented our relationship. I clearly had a lot of time on my hands back then.
What blew me away the most, besides the fact he kept my letter all these years (what else must this hoarder have in his possession?), was the honesty in my words. Letter-writing allows us to say things to others we might not have the courage, strength or even chutzpah to say to their face. And while we have email and text today, letters are so much more powerful, with no typos, hopefully.
I’m so grateful this pack rat kept my letter and used it as the reason to get back in touch. I’ve had a blast remembering this time in my life. And while he didn’t share all the contents with me (wonder how honest I really got?), he did share the highlights, and it was as if I just wrote it. I instantly remembered everything that happened leading up to it and afterwards. Even though time has clearly marched on over the past 25 years for both of us, the letter has allowed time to stand still – even if just for a little while – and for us to pick up right where we left off.
Do you have any letters like this in your drawers or shoeboxes? I’d love to hear if you find any. And if you’re lucky, you just might reconnect with an old friend and share a lot of laughs together too.