Letter Writers Alliance
I’m a member of an interesting group. As a girl with a passion for all things old fashioned and vintage, the Letter Writers Alliance just makes sense to me. Isn’t it sad that writing letters and sending them through the post has become such a rarity? I am an avid letter writer, but I didn’t know it until my brother joined the Marines. It really began when he was in boot camp.
I still remember the day the recruiter took him to MCRD San Diego. It was a little foggy that morning and I didn’t sleep from the night before. It was 4 in the morning and my family and I were wandering the house a little mindlessly. He was just himself even at the dawn of a new pathway in his life, he was confident, if a little pensive. I’d decided weeks before that I would give him a hug, say “Goodbye, I love you” and I wouldn’t cry… at least not in front of him.
So the moment came to test my fortitude, I said it, he hugged me and then all I remember from the moment the car turned out of sight was suddenly being at home. My usual response for intense emotional situations is to sleep, so I have a lot of times in my life where time seems to escape me. Anyways, for the 27 minutes it took to get home, my parents were silent and I strongly suspect I fell asleep. The very moment I strode through the door and into my room though, I became restless. I wanted to go into his room and say “Hey” or do something goofy to make him laugh, but he wasn’t there and he wouldn’t be for 13 weeks straight.
I remember picking up the nearest writing instrument (a fluorescent blue gel pen) and grabbing a notebook. At that time, something in me changed. I realized it was a way to express my life and my thoughts to my brother in a way I’d never do in person. How funny to suddenly want to ramble on and on about my inane thoughts and ideas. When the first few weeks of boot camp were over, he was finally able to receive letters. I’d been chronicling everything for days, so naturally it was time to send those out and get on with more letters. By the time he was in 3rd phase I was writing two or more letters a day and mailing them out. His DIs teased him for getting so much mail, but he said he loved it and he still wanted to hear anything I had to say. Mail call was his favorite time of day.
Letters were my way of still feeling close to my brother even when we were in two different worlds. On Sundays when he got a few free minutes, he’d dash off a letter answering some of my questions, telling me some funny stories and telling me he missed me. The things we couldn’t or wouldn’t say in person seemed to jump out of our pens and onto the papers. Each and every time the mail came, I haunted the post man. Normally he got jumpy at the houses with dogs; he’d sort of sprint up to the box, put the mail in and sprint off. With my eyes constantly searching for his arrival, my habit of leaping out the front door to make sure (a) he picked up my multitude of letters (b) he dropped off any and all personal letters and the velocity at which I sped out towards the box… He began sprinting up to my door and sprinting away. (Have you ever seen Keeping Up Appearances? I became Hyacinth with the scared post man.)
There were other times when I’d pen volumes of letters, but none so obsessively as when he was deployed. When several months lapse and you’re waiting for a Marine to come home, and you have my particular sleepy default condition, you tend to forget much of that time. But some things I do remember: the hours and hours I spent writing, crying and hugging a sandy letter, the two 100 packs of gel pens I went through and feeling that I could get through another day as long as I had the hope of more letters coming someday soon.
That habit has followed me to this day. I may not write scores of letters a day anymore, but I try to send friends and family something every so often just to remind them, and hopefully, give them the feelings I get when I receive mail. If you haven’t written a letter for a while, or you’re thinking of someone, sit down and write; give them that little thrill of opening an envelope. Join the LWA and begin chronicling things in your life, just write something.