Monday, September 24, 2012

My Baby, She Wrote Me a Letter

I got a letter from Bestest Friend last week.

Like, in the mail. In my actual physical mailbox.

I literally cannot remember the last time I got an honest-to-God handwritten letter. It was exciting. "Blue's Clues" exciting.

Mostly I get crap in my mailbox these days. Bills from companies that don't realize it's the 21st century. Advertisements from local businesses. Credit card offers from banks that apparently enjoy gambling.

Every once in a while something good turns up. "Entertainment Weekly" comes every Friday, unless it's a double issue and takes the mailman longer to read my copy before he delivers it. I get birthday cards from my parents (with a $20 bill stuck in them, of course). And then there's occasional Snickers Peanut Butter Squared.

But not lately. Drunkards, you're slacking.
But an actual letter! It was almost like a message in a bottle washing up on shore.

Bestest Friend and I used to be queens of correspondence. Although we've been besties for almost 30 years, we haven't actually lived in the same state since 1985. Our friendship thrived thanks to lots of phone calls, lots of visits back and forth, and before e-mail took over the world, lots and lots and lots of letters. And cards. And mixtapes with insanely detailed liner notes. And photos. And photocopies of news stories, magazine clippings, "Far Side" comics, and anything else we just knew would amuse and entertain each other.

I have a largish box filled with letters from friends. They're among my most prized possessions. A disproportionate number of them are from Bestest Friend. There are also a ton from my dear friends in Milwaukee, who essentially kept me from withering up and dying when I moved to Texas as a teenager via a steady stream of letters and care packages. There are even a couple from the Englishman I was madly in crush with during high school. The one who, if I hadn't blushed and stammered every single time I was in his presence, might have become a really good friend because he was sweet and funny and wrote great letters.

Did you know Stephen Colbert was
kind of a dork in high school?
He would have been too cool for me.
The postmarks start to dry up in the late 90s, as we all switched to dashing off e-mails. I still have all of Bestest Friend's e-mails, too. They tell the story of our lives in excruciating detail and with more immediacy than hand-written correspondence ever could. But all those letters and other things that we trucked through the U.S. Mail are precious - and hilarious and oh yeah sometimes hideously embarrassing - mementos in and of themselves. They deserve their place of honor in my sewing room closet, where I keep all my best stuff.

The letter I got from Bestest Friend last week wasn't actually much. A quick note explaining how she had decided to mail me a column from the New Yorker instead of just e-mailing me a link. Pretty meta, really. But a message notification in my inbox can't touch an actual stamped envelope for warm fuzzies. I was excited and touched by the gesture.

Precocious Daughter stared at it as if a sacred relic had just shown up in our mailbox.

Slightly less dramatically, however.
I'd like to say that Bestest Friend and I are going to eschew e-mail from here on out and renew our correspondence via post. Except that would be silly. I don't possess a single stamp. And I'm pretty sure I've lost the ability to hand-write something as long as a letter, which is a little sad. Also, I really enjoy our 21st-century ability to update each other in real time. It's good technology.

Still, the letter...that was pretty wonderful. I'll definitely have to return the favor. But just for old times' sake.

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