Last year I had been talking with Estelle on gchat about how I was having a ton of nostalgia lately. I don’t know the source of it but I knew one big that had been going The Postal Service concert…a band that just reminded me SO much of my freshman year of college. And she being the brilliant person she is, I mean our convo spurred one of my most popular posts ever, was like “you should make this a thing” and I knew she was right. It would be fun to talk about this stuff sporadically — all the nostalgia and memories from my past. And here we are…months later. Here’s the thing about me, right now I have about 100 drafts of half started posts in my WordPress dashboard. I’ve been trying to go through them and weed out what I don’t want to write about anymore and I found this and was like YES. I’m ready. Let’s DO THIS. So, thanks Estelle for this idea for me! xoxo
So let’s do this…
So, I mentioned this in my Meet YA Jamie post but when I was a kid/tween I had about 30-40 pen pals..like at the same time. Maybe it’s the fact that I loved the joy of getting something in my mailbox (umm still do apparently because I happy dance when I get books in the mail) or this desire to just get to know people from all over the place. Hey, I’m seeing another parallel here between then and now with the blogging community. Or it could just be because I liked to write letters. But whatever the reason was…I was OBSESSED with it. (I also got really into swapping these things that were cool amongst the pen pallers of the day…friendship books and slam books. Does ANYBODY know what I’m talking about??)
I first was introduced to the idea of pen pals through Creative Kids magazine (did anyone get that magazine as a kid?) and then through Girl’s Life magazine. I had pen pals from so many states and even some from different countries. It was just fun to be able to talk to someone outside your normal sphere. It was fun to learn about someone else’s life in another part of the world but also totally dish about family/friend drama, boy problems, favorite bands and celebs, etc. Sometimes they would be 1 or 2 pages and sometimes they’d be 10 pages. Sometimes it would be on fancy stationary or sometimes just notebook paper. There is just something special about a handwritten letter. About strangers becoming friends without ever meeting but they end up knowing so much about you.
And, now when I think about it, there was such beauty in a conversation that wasn’t instant like we are so accustomed to now. There was processing it, really “listening” to what they were saying and then really thinking about what you were going to say back. You had to wait for a response. It was something to look forward to. It was just really rather nice. I MISS handwritten letters. I do. So much. I do think the book blogging community has given me a lot of the feelings I loved about meeting new people from all over. Connecting with people you might not otherwise, learning different perspectives, etc.
I have a box full of these letters still and went through them recently (so many LOLS and wondering what the heck I wrote about because of their responses). I still think a lot about some of those pen pals I had — the ones I wrote to the most and felt like I really got to know. I kind of wonder who they grew up to be. How they are doing. I was a little bit of a creeper once and tried to find the one girl on Facebook but I never ended up going through with friend requesting her because I figured “HEY we used to be pen pals like 15 years ago” might be strange if she didn’t remember or if she thought it was just weird I had looked for her.
I’m glad I got that experience before the rise of the internet and AIM and the texting and all. Not that there is anything WRONG with online friends (I mean, hello, some of my bffs are bloggers I’ve met online and some came to my wedding even) but there was just something special about that time in my life when I poured over a letter, put that stamp on (damn they weren’t as expensive) and sent it off to another corner of the world. There was just a beautiful art to snail mail.
So I’m curious…did anyone else have pen pals when they were younger (or even now)? I mean, like real snail mail pen pals. Also, do you write a lot of handwritten letters or cards these days?