On Writing Letters

My father should have had an award for his effort in keeping connected in the days of dial-up modems and card-operated public payphones. While he was taking up his PhD in Australia, he never failed to keep us updated through snail mail, email, and phone calls - not ones made through a mobile phone with low IDD rates, but ones made through payphones using cards I eventually collected to make key chains. The handwritten letters were my favorite, though. He personalized photos and postcards with inked in comments and captions. He told us stories of his university life while we waited for visas and plane tickets to take us where he was.

I seem to have inherited his knack of writing letters. When I moved out of La Trinidad to study in ELBI (which was a good 10-hour-bus-ride away), I maximized my newly created yahoo account and wrote to my family and high school friends until I eventually became too busy with schoolwork. When I moved from The Philippines to Malaysia, I did the same and wrote password-protected pdf files. I also had a special exchange of letters with my Soul Sistah. I smile, thinking back at the days when opening my yahoo mailbox brought a rush of anticipation.

An excerpt from one of my letters home:
I was still awake the time that you sent it - still burning the midnight oil for an exam that I had this morning. I couldn't reply because I was afraid I'll just ramble on and on about interpolation, k-means clustering, etc, etc, etc. But I was greatly encouraged. I meant, I really needed every sort of encouragement during that time. Thank God for you. Lots of encouragement came all over the place din from different people. Ang sweet din ni Lord diba, te?
Maybe it's just me, but there's something about long letters that are meant to be treasured and appreciated. The thought of someone sitting down, giving full attention to either reading or writing - as opposed to distractedly trying to pay attention through the stream of multitasked activities we encounter each day - well, that's just something... special.

The last handwritten letter I wrote was delivered to its recipient at the beginning of last month. If people are said to wear their hearts on the sleeves, well, I wore my heart on that envelope. Embarrassingly enough, I had to gulp down bouts of tears as the one reading it went through it (silently) in front of me. I failed myself and let those tears out anyway. I cried because the letter left me bare and vulnerable. If anybody read any of my letters written in 2009 in front of me, well, I'd probably do a repeat performance of that Wendy's crying scene, too.

I hope writing letters will never die out and become an extinct craft. Social media and instantaneous response are good. But I still feel letters express a different - perhaps deeper - facet of love.

Do you love writing or receiving letters, too?