Thursday, October 28, 2004

Here's Looking at You

My mother had sent me a letter the other day. It arrived yesterday. She usually sends me e-mails, but those stopped for a while when her dinosaur computer that still used DOS finally died. We put it in a museum with all the other dinosaurs. A new computer was purchased and she valiantly learned all about windows, minimising, maximizing, and resolution. There were some vocabulary differences and there have been quite a few revelations – “I can just highlight the text in the website and copy it into my e-mail?” – but she’s pretty good at it. She even has her own website . But yesterday I received an actual letter from her. In truth, it wasn’t really a letter. It was more of a little note or a card. In fact it was a card she’d made herself. She’d found a colourful semi-abstract picture with large eyes on it, folded and cut it into an elaborate pattern, and pasted it into a little piece of paper, a vibrant splotch with great, big eyes looking out. On the front she’d written a little handwritten note. “Here’s looking at you.” Inside, amid the description of her morning so far and her plans for the day, she was sure I’d be amused. “You were once a great fan of ‘Casablanca’”. A sign of things to come, Mum. I wrote my last letter about three years ago. It was the first one I’d written in much longer than three years. I was living in Montreal at the time and I wrote it to a friend who lives in Toronto, where I now live. I wrote and I wrote. There are so many ways to communicate by putting a pen to paper that no emoticon can ever hope to cover. The letter ended up being so long that I could barely fit it into the envelope and I had to seal it with tape, which got stuck on my fingers. I was afraid it would also get stuck on some postal equipment, rip open, and all my thoughts would scatter across the country. I made an oath to myself that I would write one letter a week so that eventually everyone I knew would have received one. My friend sent me an e-mail telling me how much he’d liked the letter. I haven’t written one since. How do you follow a masterpiece? And it’s no fun when no one else wants to participate. It’s not like e-mail, or messenger, or blogging, for that matter, where all you have to do is type and send. Spelling is irrelevant; punctuation inconvenient. Capital letters are monoliths from a by-gone era. They slow everything down. I look at my mother’s card, made just for me. It contains a reference to something I barely recall, but it must have made an impression for her to fold it up neatly so many years later and put it in a little card. I read it and I wish I didn’t live so far that she had to send me letters.


Blogger Aaron said...

Ah, the long lost art of the letter. I love to write letters, perhaps a fascination with my penmanship, but I'm horrible about getting any in envelopes and stamped.

There's a notebook somewhere in this room of letters that became e-mails. So much for romance.

10/28/2004 01:21:00 a.m.  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Awesome post.

My dependance on word processors has fundamentally changed not only the way I verify spelling (or don't) but also has impacted the way I write as well. The "new" method of spewing out ideas, moving them around, and throwing in a segue or two to make it flow (hopefully)just wasn't practical before.

10/28/2004 10:13:00 a.m.  

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