I write letters. Recipients are random. Taking a stroll around downtown or going back home on a bus, someone will pop into my head, sometimes for very particular reasons, sometimes for no reason at all. And I start writing as soon as I have access to pen and paper. It doesn’t take me long. Prose flows. It’s like I’ve just spoken to them last night, continuing on the daily doldrums of what happened the following day. I seal the envelope. I blatantly ask for their address. And I head out to the post office.
I love this moment of physical embarkation: the expectant three-block walk; the weight of hope in my hands, my message in a bottle; the feeling of tangible accomplishment, of being the architect of my desired relationships, both romantic and friendly. Somewhere in the not-distant future, I will recall fondly the days of hand-writing and mailing my letters, and will miss this ritual as I miss the ink stains from Sunday newspapers on my fingers; though, I hope that day never comes. This act of physical submission is a lot different than those messages we send through various social networking services. The ease of online communication in this era—those effortless, rash, one-click 3 a.m. and drunk transmissions—is an enemy of a romantic writer’s ego. Online communication is the lazy satiation of a Saturday night on the couch with pizza and ice cream, whereas the stroll to the post office forces us to abandon our retreats, move forcefully deeper into a relationship, to express ourselves, declaring our hopes to ‘please keep in touch.’
But the disappointment is this.