I’ve recently been working on my penmanship. I’d like to write like my great grandmothers did – in delicate script, with a little bit of a slant. It’s the way a well-raised woman should write – impeccable and elegant. And – as we all know – I am a lady. So I gotta practice that script.
European children learn the best spindly writing, thanks to all those dictees.
I don’t have their advantage, but I’m working on it. I’ve started taking all of my class notes in cursive, and writing my letters in “handwriting” as well.
I started writing letters regularly when I left Swarthmore. The idea was to keep in touch with my friends in an intimate way. To be honest, I really can’t overstate another factor that played into the mix – my weakness for beautiful notecards.
I soon figured out that writing letters made me feel like a 1940’s war bride, in the best possible way. As in – I know my friends and loved ones aren’t going to die. But the most important and altruistic part of letter-writing came to me this past spring.
What happens when our generation has kids? What will our children do to pry into the past we’d really like to forget? They’ll rummage through our desks and shoeboxes forever and find nothing.
I once found my Dad’s love letters from his high school girlfriend. I read them with my brother and it was pretty weird and kinda voyeuristic – but also exciting! It was a glimpse (through a degree or two) of my Daddy as he was at 18.
I feel like I owe my children and the children of those I love the same privilege. So, in this digital world, I carry stamps in my planner and notecards in my backpack. I perfume my letters and write them in cursive to enlighten the youth of tomorrow.
Since I started writing letters, I picked up penpals all over the place. Since I had so much free time, I wrote many, many letters. I worked through many, many sets of notecards. I soon moved to customizing blank notes with rubber stamps. And then, at the height of creativity, I moved to drawings and homemade envelopes.
Allow me to demonstrate the process of making a homemade envelope. This is a very important rectangular skill to have, and I am honored to pass it onto my faithful readers.
Step 1. Find a piece of paper.
Step 2. Fold the paper so that roughly 3/4 of it is folded and 1/4 is unfolded.
Step 3. Fold the two sides of the rectangle in, about an inch or so.
Step 4. Fold down the two top corners into two little triangles.
Step 5. Fold along the line dividing the “containing” part of the envelope from the “closing” part.
Step 6. Affix three pieces of tape on the envelope – one on each of the side margin folds and another at the point of the envelope.
Voila! So easy! So flexible. So beautiful.
Keep up the cause, friends. Fight for our children’s rights to rummage through old belongings and read things that make them uncomfortable. For this reason, I keep every letter I receive – from old boyfriends, new ones, friends, ex-friends. All of them. I know that my future babies will have tons of things to gossip about.