Staying in touch with the girls.

Over the past few days, I’ve received three pieces of personal mail, which gives me a good feeling all over. With the normal mail delivery consisting of student loan payments, bills, flyers, catalogs, and junk mail, the occasional letter or card is always a welcome sight. So now I’ve got a couple of letters (from Deb and Teresa) to respond to, a task to which I’m looking forward this evvening, perhaps over a cup or two of tea, in their honor. These are the ladies with whom I’ve shared many pots of tea on evenings after movies at the Brattle or dinner in the North End, and who are far away.
In college, I was an avid letter-writer, corresponding with as many as a dozen different people (at the highest point, the summer after my junior year) at a time, and relishing the arrival of a letter in my mailbox. There’s a great satisfaction to written correspondence, particularly of the postal mail kind — as opposed to email, which, as a medium for lengthy missives, is too immediate, too frantic to be suited to anything but the beginning stages of a relationship, or perhaps a loved ones accustomed to constant presence who suddenyl find themselves separated by distance. (In that latter case, though, I think the telephone wins out; email, I guess, is best left to short notes, business communiques, and flirtation.)
Letter-writing, on the other hand, has an easier rhythm, does not create the pressure to find interesting things in one’s day about which to speak but rather is an exercise in picking the right details, the right stories to tell, the right things to share. I think it’s good discipline for writing in general: a good letter is well thought-out, entertaining, and thought-provoking, like a targeted personal essay. The one-to-two-week interval between letters is a perfect one for always having something worthwhile to share.
Furthermore, letter-writing is the perfect arena for introspection: the recounting of one’s days, one’s adventures (large or small), the articulating of one’s thoughts and feelings provides a great catharsis and satisfaction, a way of both remembering hat one has done and working out what’s going on in one’s head.
I think it’s interesting that most of the people with whom I have been able to maintain a regular correspondence at one point or another are women, though there are a few notable exceptions. My closest female friends are, for the most part, all in places-not-Boston at the moment, as close as Attleboro and as far away as Iraq. I suppose it’s lucky for me, then, that it’s the girls who are absent: I’d have a harder time keeping in touch with the guys.
So, ladies, here’s a cup of tea in your honor. I miss you all.

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