How many of you, when you were little, had a pen-pal? Someone you would write to, maybe from another country, or within the UK. I'm pretty much certain that most of us have written a letter at some point in our lives, whether it was to a friend, family member or romantic partner (or maybe I'm showing my age here?). Now I'm not talking about letters that you write to the bank manager asking for an extension of your overdraft, or letters written to complain about faulty merchandise. The letters I'm referring to are those personal, informal and carefully handwritten letters, at times, on beautiful notepaper in matching envelopes.
The thing about a handwritten (or even typed letter) is that they last. Unlike a text or an email, which can be completely erased from existance at the touch of a button and are things you look at, letters are things you can physically hold in your hand, take out and re-read a hundred times over. Nowadays we live in a world of tweets and pokes and comments, which are all great for keeping in touch with people throughout our increasingly busy days, but there is something precious and personal about a letter. Thoughout the centuries the letter has been used to declare love, declare war, announce births, deaths and marriages, commence engagements and cease realtionships (yes, the infamous 'Dear John Letter - more commonly done through text and e-mail, equally crushing). My most favourite part of the Sex and the City movie is when Big sends Carrie the 'Love Letters of Great Men', but again, he e-mails them, and they are not really his. Receiving a letter someone has taken the time to compose themselves is far more precious than words copied from another. And it's not the quality of the language used that makes them special, it's just the fact they are personal and straight from the heart.
I have a box in my room that contains letters from friends over the years. Some are letters written over the summer holidays when we were seven or eight, written in pink pencil and detailing events which were important at the time: going to the park, getting a new bike, having a picnic for your Barbies in the garden. I have a letter from a friend in primary school apoligising to me for breaking my Beauty and the Beast rubber. Obviously this was not a hugely significant event in our lives by any means (I doubt she even remembers it) but to me, it serves as a reminder of childhood innocence, when a broken rubber really was the extent of our worries. I have letters from 'boys' asking me to out with them, and also one telling me he didn't like me anymore and had been going out with my friend *Susie for the past two weeks (I don't know why I kept that one, but it reminds me of the fact that no matter how much you a love a person, it doesn't mean they necessarily feel the same). There are a collection of small notecards given to me by truly inspiring teachers, and whose words have probably helped me to become the person I am today. I still revert back to what these cards say, in moments when I doubt myself.
What I'm saying it, letters not only have meaning at the point of being written, or your initial reading of them, their meaning can change several times, and indeed, each and every time you read them. Sometimes they can serve to be a reminder of who you were at a particular point in your life, relationships you once had and how you felt. They can also hold incredible sentimental value, especially letters from a loved one who is no longer present in your life.The feeling that you are touching thw same page as that person, you can trace the patterns of their letters with your finger, and are essentially joined together by this one page. Letters can also reveal more than the meaning of the words on the page, you get an insight into the person through their handwriting, unique to them. The most personalised you can be with e-mail is by changing the font, the colour and adding some smileys.
I don't want to come across as being completely against all forms of social networking, modern means of communication and the pressures of the 2011 - I am of course typing this as a blog - but I just think it would be nice if we could also make space for a little more romance, personality and sincerity in our communication. Maybe this weekend, or sometime soon, put pen to paper, tell someone that you love them, miss them, or are simply thinking about them, pop it in an envelope, stamp and everything, and send it. You never know just how your handwritten words will touch the recipient, and what you might receive in return.
I know this is swaying a bit from my normal posting, but I kind of want this blog to reflect me as a person, and not just beauty. I hope it is still of interest to you readers and that it means something to you. What are your thoughts on the lost art of letter writing?