April 2, 2011


There's nothing quite like getting a letter in the mail.

On several occasions I have hypothesized on just what it is that separates cards from letters and e-cards from e-mails. There seems to be a hierarchy of specialness which I want to understand- so I can master- so I can act not in instinct but concrete knowledge.

There is, we well know, an entire art to letter writing- the composition of the letter, the content of the letter, the voice of the letter, and the aesthetic of the letter. Does someone get right to the point? Do they ramble, rhapsodize, or hurl themselves down rabbit trails? Is the envelope plain? Do they decorate it with flowers? Romantic? Business? Classy? Cute? Feminine?

I began letter writing when I was about seven or eight. I remember how each letter would begin.

Dear Samantha,
How are you? I'm doing fine.
(After a year or so I grew tired of that.)

Dear Samantha,
(Getting all fancy.)

Now I say whatever I want to say- and so I think it is the truest expression of myself. Yes. Isn't it that very expression of self which compels us to read letters- blogs, books, e-mails- in the first place? Because I know that I have for years, whenever I sign onto my e-mail, network, or Facebook- I hope against hope that someone- anyone- will have thought of me- and written.

"What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you." -You've Got Mail

I think it is the thought that counts. Because it's not about whether you compose a masterpiece. It is about the unmatchable knowledge that someone, amidst their life, stopped and crafted, communicated, a message from out of themselves to nobody but you.

I always save letters (and messages and e-mails) for special moments, free of distraction (sometimes I even make myself clean my room just so I'll have visual peace when I read them). Then I saver every word and reread every line. Your comments on my posts brighten my face. An e-mail makes my day. But letters, letters make my spirit dance.

Then what is it about a letter?

The physical existence of the letter, I think, has something to do with it. E-mails don't really exist. Numbers inside wires send little messages and light flashes on the screen- just as easily gone- just as easily annihilated all together. Existence is part of a letter's specialness.

I speculate that handwriting plays a large role as well. A person's handwriting is an extension of themselves- the very imprint that their hands have made. Personality on a page. You can not help but feel physically closer to someone when you have the work of their hands in your own.

Letter - noun 1: The concrete culmination of all the heart-to-heart communication that souls wish for... when apart.

So talk to me.


  1. This is so true! I love getting messages of any kind, especially if I'm having lousy day.They have power to bring back a little light. Of course handwritten notes, cards, and letters are the best =D

  2. "Bring back a little light." Yes. Yes, Natalie. :-) [A comment! *does a happy dance* SEE?!]

  3. Hey! So I found your blog via the Rebelution. You are a great writer! And I totally agree-there is something very unique and special about a hand written letter that makes your heart smile.

    Fellow Rebelutionary and blogger,

  4. I love this post, Cher. I do believe I need to get your address.

    ... you should send me your address. ;)


  5. Thanks for stopping by, RuthAnne! Glad you like it. :-) :-)

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. [Hey, Dani! I reposted your comment minus your e-mail address. :-)]

    My name is Danielle Rains, your moms best friends daughter, sounds silly I know, but I was telling my mom about how I had gotten a blog on this site. She told me you had one as well, and I would really like to be able to get to know you better after not seeing you since I was a little girl.
    P.S: I love your blog, and it seemed appropriate to write this on a writing post as I am a writer as well :)

  8. Hello Dani! :-)

    Yes! Of course I remember you. I'm glad to "meet" (ignoring for the moment that I've already met you and we're not meeting now) both a fellow blogger and the daughter of Mrs. Rains. :-) Yes, I'll e-mail you. :-)

    You know we'll be seeing you this summer! How exciting is that? The last time we were at your house it was my tenth birthday- and you and your brother dug into your treasure stores and gave me birthday presents. :happy, nostalgic sigh:

    Thanks! I'm glad you like my blog. :-) keep writing, Danielle!

  9. I do know we barely knew each other, I was/am two years younger than you :) Yes I am so exited to see you all again this summer!! And a few new ones as well :)

  10. I realize putting my address up wasn't the best idea:)