The living room fills with the tiny click-clicks of a keyboard. I haven't bothered to put my ear buds in or even glance at the lovely stack of books on the coffee table that have tried to tempt me with their gleaming, paperback covers. Vanilla Turkish Taffy twists like a sticky ribbon in my fingers as I fiddle with it and squint at the text on my laptop screen.
It's not right.
If my sentences could dance, they'd jerk and jive like someone threw ice down their backs. "Too awkward," I mumble. I separate paragraphs and stare each sentence down. I make a list on my miniature legal pad of what, exactly, I'm trying to accomplish by writing this letter. There's an art to letter-writing, I think. And I'm not sure I've mastered it.
I won't compare letters to telephone calls or even emails. I won't pretend that I, like many people in Jane Austen's time, can read or even write a criss-cross letter. But there's something about composing a letter that will never change: the privacy of it. And nothing says "microcosm" than opening up a page full of handwriting. But here's a confession. I haven't handwritten a letter in a long time. I actually tried to do it recently, but my handwriting isn't that great and, well, I write a lot. I'm one of those rambling writers. I feel like I have too much to say, and I get excited, and, being a writer, I feel that if I have just one more paragraph, I can make you feel as if you were right there with me. Or that's what I'd like to do one day.
I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter - Blaise Pascal
So if you receive a letter from me that's only a page long, you'll know I've labored over it, haha. Whether I'm handwriting a letter or typing it, I often feel like the air around me disappears. I try to imagine the person I'm writing to. Would my words make her smile? Can that joke sound funny without a "just kidding" directly after? Will he understand what I'm saying when I try to relate?
This is why people are paid to write greeting cards, right? When I browse the card aisles, I can't help but admire even the cheesiest of lines. The point comes across. The message is clear. This is why people will buy expensive cards with golden, swirly words and only sign their names on the inside.
No matter how much trouble a letter can be, it's one of the best feelings in the world to send it on its way. I feel warm and happy, knowing that my letter is changing hands, hitching rides in people's pockets, flying overhead, or sailing across the sea. And very soon, the seal will be broken and the letter unfolded. There's magic in that.
Photo from We Heart It