In the drawer of my nightstand, there are stacks of letters, cards, and emails, either tied together with ribbons or held together with paperclips stretched to their limit (which will soon breathe their last and be replaced with the aforementioned ribbons). These stacks are representative of people who are important in my life, those who have taken the time to put pen to paper and write to me: their thoughts, their feelings, the happenings in their lives – the good and the bad – their joys, and their struggles. I cannot throw these letters out; there’s too much in them. These are heart strands plainly writ. I could no more be rid of them than I could my own journals.
There are letters that I have lost over the years that I wish I still had, particularly from my first pen pal. We were teenagers and Leah and I became very close, writing to each other almost weekly, as well as checking in and chatting online. I wish I still had her brightly-inked letters but they are surely long gone, unfortunately. So, now, I endeavor to hang on to those notes from friends and family, people I love, those proofs of their effort and heart for me. Most who know me know that I am an epistophile – a person in love with the written tradition. I love the nuances of a person’s handwriting, the time it took for them to create that particular piece of writing. Even when words are crossed or inked out, I enjoy it. It is evidence of thought, of the writer working through their thoughts as they write, either thinking better or more of what they say before they say it, a virtue that has been largely lost these days, I feel.
In my purse, I carry a handwritten “Dear Beautiful Stranger” letter, inspired by the same action taken by For the Wild and the Free. I used to have four of them but three of them found their way into books and onto shelves in several stores around Muncie. I have this one left and am just waiting to find the perfect space in which to leave it for someone to find, someone whom I will never meet but that I hope will pass on the positive message to someone else somewhere else.
Letter writing is a joy. It is an art. It a heart-craft. These letters – like my journals – are the tangible proof of my life, of our lives, of the existence of friendships and relationships. They are proof (some of it) that I am and those whom I love are.