I miss letters. I really do.
But to make a short story long, here’s what ignited this train of thought:
So I picked up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, book that’s been sitting on my (sister’s) shelf for a while, untouched. I’ve heard nothing but good reviews about it, but I never knew anything about it. I kind of assumed it was a lot like The Jane Austen Book Club, and I didn’t even read the blurb on the back when I decided to pick it up. (Which seems like reader blasphemy.)
So I was incredibly surprised when I opened to the first page and found something that I haven’t seen in a while.
Letters. The novel is nothing but them.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this kind of formatting at all. In fact, I quite enjoy it because it allows for several points of view without utter confusion. During elementary school I loved reading the Dear Canada series. And it made me realize that I missed them.
Truth be told, I rarely received letters when I was little. My grandma used to enclose letters with birthday cards she sent, though often they were written in Tagalog, so I never understood. My mother would translate the story for me.
So why should I miss letters?
Everything is so fast with emails, and for some reason, so impersonal. For example, I’ve been emailing my friend who’s studying abroad, and often our emails are one or two sentences long. I know part of the reason is that we’re making them that short, but I also think part of the reason is that we can make them that short.
The internet has made everything so fast–not that I’m complaining–but I’ve found that the expediency has destroyed the personality.
The beautiful thing about letters is that they had to be mailed–old-fashioned style. There was something behind knowing that whatever you wanted to say wasn’t going to be sent immediately–even compared to emails that are not read immediately. You had to flesh everything out, and since you don’t want to waste paper, you filled at least a whole page. Even if you didn’t write them by hand (which my grandmother always did), a personality was behind each word, because this would be the only correspondence you’d send in a while. It was your side of the conversation.
There is also a permanence to them. I mean, there is supposedly an infinite amount of digital space and so you could keep every single email you ever received forever…but the permanence of something tangible, that you can pick it up, read it again, and have a whole story relayed back to you it just seems so much more significant to me.
Maybe I’m just romanticizing the letter, maybe I’m not doing it enough justice. But either way, I miss them.
“I have only made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” -Blaise Pascal