Lately I’ve been enamoured with the concept of penpals.
The idea of writing to another person, miles and sometimes oceans away is so romantic to me. I love blogging but there isn’t the intimacy of handwritten letters, of longing to get a new letter and the thrill of finally getting it in the mail. It’s beautiful. A lot of people just don’t understand that. They get an email and it fulfills them. For me, I want something different. I want something personal.
My first penpal was in second grade. I think her name was Tara-something like that. We grew into good friends, although we’d originally been forced to write each other. We promised to write each other after school ended. She never wrote me back. Maybe that wasn’t the best experience but it did get me hooked on penpals. I’d scour the internet for penpal sites when I was ten. Of course, I could never join any of these communities because my mother was convinced that forty year old men with handlebar mustaches and white vans were just waiting for a pretty young thing like me to write. And so I didn’t write.
Finally, with my teenage discovery of livejournal (and also, coincidentally, teenage angst) I found penpal communities. I wrote little “about me”‘s and emailed back and forth with a few but none really came to anything. Even now, I’m only on my second letter. But still, it’s the thrill and joy of sending and receiving. I’ve three penpals now. They’re all quite darling. They’re all also older than me. Apparently teenagers of my generation either do not like me or don’t frequent the penpal communities I do.
Penpalling is something I do to feel close to other people, to bridge the gap between worlds. Instead of IMing someone, there’s a personality to it, a distinct quality that comes with each letter. There’s the stationary, the stickers, the drawings and the mixtapes. You can’t do this things with an email, with a text. So even as my generation abandons traditonal forms of communication, I’ll hold on to the someday barbaric act of sending a letter.