Remember when you got letters from friends and you read them over and over and then sat down to answer them in detail? I’m talking letters written in cursive longhand on paper, very likely written with a fountain pen. In those days it was considered “cold” to write a personal letter on a typewriter. Besides, I could not, at the time, use one of those things.

When email came along – and yes, I can remember that – I thought that was the most amazing manifestation of the technological age. The only problem was that I had few friends who were able to use or even understood what email was. I still got hand written letters in real envelopes with stamps on them. If I maintained a correspondence with someone it was done by writing a letter on paper with a pen or pencil.

Newsy letters to friends and family were more like friendly essays in which a slice of your life was described and many times accompanied by actual photographs. It was a production. You gathered pen, ink, paper, envelope, stamps and address book to the kitchen table, or one of those fold down writing hutches that were almost everywhere or perhaps used a lap desk so you could sit in your favorite chair and write.

Today, communication takes place in jerks and snippets, one-liners, jokes or some pre-packaged made-for-FaceBook aberration that lets everyone know you are still alive and well but actually don’t have anything to say.

Then there is Twitter with its 140 character limit that has by now trained thousands to condense, abbreviate and even use hybrid spelling to fit a thought into that confining space. Although two way communication can and does take place on Twitter, it is mostly a place for announcement like statements, one-liners and opinions. Personal adverts for some personal cause perhaps.

A couple of years ago I got this idea that all this had gone far enough and I wanted to step off the fast track, regress, go back to writing my journal in longhand/cursive with a mechanical pencil like i used to do. Then I decided to go all the way back, so one winter’s day in Portland I found this shop that sold real fountain pens and quality writing paper. I was going to journal and write one letter the “old” way every week.

I had forgotten just how illegible my hand writing really is. After five minutes even I can not decipher it. Reality came knocking and i opened my laptop and dashed off a few “tweets” and a FaceBook comment or two about nothing feeling smugly connected to the world.

I now have this very nice Lamy fountain pen which I use for thank you notes and cards. I can hold longhand together for a line or two, but after that it begins to look more like Sanskrit than modern English.

While I do miss getting hand written letters from friends, I am quite certain that even my most dedicated loved ones and correspondents rejoice at not having to decode my pen and ink epistles.

4 Comments

  1. I have a fountain pen. I will write you a letter!

  2. Yes, I can vouch for your handwriting legibility, and yes, I do miss those mini essays in the mail. But that’s where WordPress or what ever blog application we use comes into play.
    Facebook, Twitter or any other A-D-D inspired tool is out there is a genuine waste of precious time…and yes, I use them all-sad to say. Be well

  3. Yes, I can vouch for your handwriting legibility, and yes, I do miss those mini essays in the mail. But that’s where WordPress or what ever blog application we use comes into play.
    Facebook, Twitter or any other A-D-D inspired tool is out there is a genuine waste of precious time…and yes, I use them all-sad to say. Be well

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