Hazel, my youngest at four years old, is becoming a writer. Her stationary is small little pieces of lined paper with white envelopes and she is mostly writing love letters and requests. Dear Iris. I really miss you. I hope I come back. [Iris is her dance teacher] and Dear Mama, Please take me to the track tomorrow. left on my pillow [I’ve been taking her with me to the track so I can squeeze in a morning run] and Dear Papa, You are a worker. I love you. Love, Hazel. and Dear Mr. Black, We are having a lemonade party. You should come. Love, Hazel [letting our wonderful 85 year old neighbor across the street know about her lemonade stand]. She stuffs her little bits of writing into envelopes and hand delivers them or insists that we mail them that day.
This makes me think about mailboxes and mail and how I miss giving and receiving in the slow, papery, tear-it-open way. Paper and ink connection is so different than the ding of a text — more cozy and important feeling, I think. I was remembering the notes and letters I wrote when I was fifteen-ish, and how they were filled with jokes and little drawings and quizzes. They took so long to create — a five pager was a sure sign of devotion. And, how my grandmother sent handwritten notes with stacks of weekly comics to my college dorm room and apartments for years and years — because she wanted to be sure that I had something that would make me laugh. And, how my uncle, the veterinarian who gave me our precious Sophie cat (a rescue that was left on his doorstep), has been sending me the Cornell Veterinary Cat Watch biweekly for the past thirteen years. Go ahead — ask me about ear mites! I’m well read on the subject. Actually, I don’t read the newsletter anymore; I just scan the top left corner where he always writes a short, hand-written message. And, I feel close to him. He doesn’t have email and the Cat Watch is his stationary.
I am going to follow Hazel’s lead this summer. (And, my uncle’s. And, my grandmother’s. And, my fifteen year old self’s.) I’m going to write more letters and draw more pictures and send them to people I love.