birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Not Email

I was going to write about a letter I received recently, and then I realized it wasn’t a letter at all, it was an email. I got confused because it was a response to a letter that *I* had sent, so in a way I guess this is about a letter I wrote. I generally don’t write letters anymore (who does?) I only did in this case because I was sending a package to an old friend so I had to send it by post. Her reply was kind of touching, she said that getting the letter, and seeing my handwriting, had brought back memories from the way back when we only communicated by mail (because that’s the only way we could.) And that made me think of how long we have been friends (thirty six years!) and all that has happened in between to both of us, and also how nice it is to have friends who remember you and still think of you fondly from long ago.

I wrote my friend because she just had a baby and I was sending a gift. But getting her response makes me realize how much I miss writing letters. I used to correspond a lot with people, but now we can email anytime we want, which of course means that we never do. The rhythm of the to-and-fro got all disrupted, and my missives have become much more utilitarian.

There is something about letters that is romantic. I love addressing them and adding the postage, and I used to love getting them. Because they take a few days to arrive, they are always from the past, which is frustrating but also interesting. They are the human equivalent of starlight, something you see now but which left its point of origin long ago. But I suppose all writing is, this is just much more personal.


Letters Through the Years

Dear Dad