“Sign up here to receive a handwritten letter…” I signed up right away. I’m an adult. I can no longer imagine getting an envelope in the mail that doesn’t demand money.

What a delightful project by Australian artist Gert Geyer–she’s sending out one handwritten letter every day to someone. Just because.

I love letters. I used to run to the mailbox every day to see if mail came for me. I’d send four, five, six-paged letters, both sides. I’d send them all over the world and wait for a response.

I wrote to people in England, Russia, Italy, and somewhere in New London, Connecticut until my mom found that letter.

I was about ten and we were on vacation. I left a letter for the hotel lady.  The hotel leaves those pads of paper with envelopes and a pen. What else do you do with them?

The chambermaid’s name was Debbie. She thanked me for my note and wrote about her family, which was a little smaller because one of her children had been taken away by family services. She told me about that and some kind of trouble with the police.

I started to say she should call the police if someone stole her children but my mom took my letter and said that was enough of that.

Apparently, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, you couldn’t just leave your address all over hotel rooms. I wondered why, because it was still safe to pick up hitchhikers–Dad did it all the time. Uber hadn’t been invented.

The rest of my pen pals turned out to be safe. I wrote three letters to pen pal Paola before I realized she was Italian, not Spanish. I could read some Spanish because I used to watch Spanish Sesame Street when my mom wasn’t paying attention, but Italy was a whole new world, famous for things like pizza and spaghetti. I was intrigued.

I found Paola’s address in the free newspaper in the Italian store. Those were the days when a grandfather could send a ten-year old to the store for cheese or milk without her being kidnapped. Like I said, the world was different back then.

I wrote Paola for years. Then, she faded away.

I don’t have any more pen pals, so today I send boxes of things I make and grow to my friends. I’m getting to that age where I appreciate sending and receiving things made with love, things that can’t be found at a store. That’s one of the signs of approaching old age.

Anyway, I filled out Gert’s form because I’ve had the pen pal spirit beaten out of me by technology. Nobody wants to have a good written conversation these days. “If you don’t shorten your emails, I’m going to delete them.” I tried to defeat Cranky Friend by sending real, live mail, but I lost in the end.

“Oh I don’t open mail.” I had to admit defeat.

That’s where the world is today. No long emails. No hitchhiking. No leaving addresses in hotel rooms. No opening the mail. We’re doomed–a hyperconnected set of molecules with very few covalent bonds.

That’s why I signed up for the “get a real letter written by me” project.  I think it’s cool. Since I feel inspired, I taped up a box and sent it out as well. I’m going to set myself reminders to start doing that again. It’s fun. It makes me smile. Today, I sent some books, some baby things, and some Easter candy.

But just wait until Monday–because that’s when the Easter candy will be half price. Who will be the lucky person then? You’ll just have to wait and see…

And oh yeah, you might even have to open your mail.

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