Handwritten Correspondence May Be Dying, But I'm Not Done With It Yet / by Nicole Paulus


I'm doing a lot better now than I was doing earlier. That's because I spent the first half of my day drying almost a decades worth of correspondence in my oven. There I was sitting cross-legged on my kitchen floor with tears streaming down my face, attempting to peel apart the pile of drenched cards and handwritten notes from loved ones.  

If you haven't already heard about it on the news, Phoenix received the heaviest downpour ever recorded in the city's history last night. Usually I am the biggest fan of rainy days. This morning, however, I awoke to a hall closet, foyer and carport filled with 3 inches of water. In the hall closet, I just so happened to keep a box full of correspondence inside of a waterproof (or so I thought) tote that we once found in an alley. When I opened the tote and saw a puddle of water at the bottom I suddenly understood why someone discarded it long ago. As a result, all of my love letters, graduation cards, birthday cards, postcards from granny, silly magazine clippings from sissy and sweet "thinking of you" cards from mama were all soaked and congealed into one giant mass of sludge.

Insert feelings of dread, heartache and melancholy. 

I started collecting handwritten correspondence when I moved away for college in 2005. With the thousands of miles between my mom, sister and high school sweetheart, I became all-too familiar with that icky, achy feeling otherwise known as homesickness. Because of my fragile condition, every letter, phone call and visit home became infinitely more meaningful. To help ease these moments of homesickness, I sometimes re-read my growing collection of correspondence late at night.

While I was desperately trying to salvage a decade of memories on the floor of my kitchen, I started thinking about why I was so sad. I was sad because I was fearful of losing those memories forever, a recorded history of nearly a third of my life. I was sad because people don't really write me letters anymore. I was sad because future generations won't know what it's like to catalog their memories, their momentous occasions, their feelings onto a piece of paper. 

Call me crazy but saving a screenshot of a text message or email doesn't seem nearly as romantic as folding up a handwritten love note or doodle and tucking it away in a drawer or journal to re-read again later.

Needless to say all of my cards and letters made a full recovery. From here on out I'll make sure to keep them in a safer (and drier) place. I will also make sure to send more handwritten letters, silly magazine clippings, post cards and thinking-of-you reminders to all of my loved ones, especially the ones that are many miles away. I encourage you to do the same. 

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