Do people still have penpals?

I am certain.

Although I guess everybody could be the same as me, obsessed with the idea, but totally unable to get started on it, at least in the traditional sense. I even bought a typewriter for myself, a year and a half ago, with the chief aim of evading the principle excuse I’ve been using for years to get out of writing letters, my appalling handwriting. I currently even have two books, waiting to be posted, along with letters, to specific people whose addresses I have. I’ve had one of them for over two years now.

But most people are less useless than me, I imagine. There’s something really special about letters, the postal system and the art of correspondence. It has such an impact to actually recieve something in the post. To actually spend time on this slow but inevitable back and forth.

It’s been a year and three days since I last recieved a proper letter from a proper person in the post. It made me happier than anything, even though it just said ‘it’s fine’ on one side and a paranoid, one sided debate about whether or not I’d get confused by the use of the word love on the other.

It was a marvel. It made me happier than anything.

It’s still on my wall. I’m looking at it now. It’s telling me, as always, that ‘it’s fine’.

And it is.

Of course, these days, people can communicate by other means much quicker. I’ve had thirty two e-mails exchanged with one person in the last four days or so. Twitter introduces me to new people constantly. Skype reconnects me to people on the other side of the world. I’m assured that I’m going to be able to start playing go with someone in London soon.

Which makes me think of correspondence chess, my word that must have been incredible. Waiting days at a time between a chess move. Building tension slowly over months. Examining each board position as utterly thoroughly as possible. Cursing each mistake for weeks on end.

Anyway, communication across distance is now convenient, and of course, I am going to sit here and bemoan it. I am a fan of slow life, although I enjoy the benefits of the rush constantly. I like the idea of slow correspondence and taking the time to pen a proper response to a friend or even a stranger.

I’m tempted to sign up to the Bent Bars project, befriending a LGBT/Queer person in prison and offering some narrow, slow stream of support. Getting to know someone different, slowly and in depth.

And I’ve still got a couple in Münster to thank for putting me up and lending me bike, and a girl in Totnes to thank for introducing me to unicorns.

I think we should all stay in touch more, and one more way of doing that is with letters.

Anything to stay connected with people is good though.

Anything you do to say, ‘it’s fine’.

Illustration by Jaime


About Alex Ava

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Illustrations by Jaime, Questions by Karen. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Do people still have penpals?

  1. Pingback: Hey Pal! « JAIME HUXTABLE

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