You’ve got mail or deep thoughts at terminal E

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I’m sitting at terminal E , just 30 minutes before boarding my flight to Zurich. My parents were kind enough to drive me to the airport and the gate agent was kind enough to let a few extra pounds go on my over-packed carry-on.

The last few days have been mainly filled with sorting, packing, resorting and repacking and coming up with any excuse to take a break from sorting and packing. You’ll notice that I’ve already changed the design theme of this blog. Three times. That is how much I hate packing.

In the midst of all this packing and well… procrastinating, three of my very best friends stopped by for pizza, Prosecco and final goodbyes. These are some of my oldest friends whom I met in kindergarten and college. So I thought this would be an opportune time to share a folder of handwritten letters that I had saved from when we had all just graduated.

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At that time, I was aspiring to be starving artist at a bronze casting foundry, all the while my friends were off having their own adventures. One was teaching English in the peace corps in Africa, while another was having the time of her life in Dublin. My oldest friend (from kindergarten) was devising a strategy to move out of her parents’ house and reeling from the loss of her very sweet grandfather. While our locations and experiences could not have been more different, we were all in transition, still figuring out what we wanted to be when we grew up.

After they left, I read through all of the letters in more detail. I sifted through postcards, note-cards, barely legible multi-page monologues complete with xerox photo montages as well as perfectly penned prose on flowery stationery.  They were from close friends, past roommates, acquaintances, momentary crushes and fleeting romances.  Some, from friends I still know well and others who seem to have slipped away into distant memories.  The last letter I found was from 1998. I can only surmise that after that point, these illustrative and thoughtfully handwritten letters made way for the convenience of emails, texts and instant messages.

That said, I can’t help but wonder if in 10 or 20 years, will I go back into my Facebook timeline with the same nostalgia? Or will I sort through the 60,000+ messages in my inbox to find similarly hidden treasures? Even if I do take the time to sort through my digital archives, it will most definitely be less rewarding. There’s something so special about a handwritten letter. The feel of the stationery, the hand addressed envelope, the carefully selected stamp, the unique handwriting. Each letter is a personal, specially crafted story just for you.  Contrast that with the impersonal status update, tweet or email message hastily captured while multitasking.

At that moment, I promised myself I would write real, handwritten letters to my friends and family from Switzerland.  And I’ll urge my friends to do the same. With the instant gratification of Facebook, Instagram and international texting, I know it is unlikely. But a girl can dream.

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