The second most common question I’ve heard in the last year – the first being “Are you okay?” – is “Have you watched any good shows on Netflix?” I’ve asked this question, too, when talking with friends and family, all of us on the hunt for something to do when the sun goes down. Like a lot of other people, I’ve watched more TV than I normally do. I’ve also read more books, pieced together more puzzles, leaned into cooking new recipes, and put a lot of miles on my walking shoes. A lot of miles.
I’ve also hand-written a bunch of notes. Since I’m a writer, this makes sense. Yet, note-writing is no longer a common past-time, during this pandemic or otherwise. People are much more inclined to send a quick email or text – sometimes make a phone call. I do love email. I’m a proficient typist, which makes it easy. And I like the casual feel of email. It’s implied that the receiver will respond when time allows. Texting is more urgent and fun! It’s the way I communicate with my grown sons, siblings, and friends. The phone call is reserved for my mother, a few friends, the library, the bookstore, and (unfortunately) tech support. My favorite place to talk on the phone (via speaker) is in the car.
Writing notes offers an opportunity for quieter prose. Plus, ink has an aura of permanence, unlike what traverses thin air. I buy notecards at Bank Square Books in downtown Mystic. (I buy all my books there, too.) I like to have several boxes on hand. For serious notes, I use a white card with a colored border. For social notes, I prefer something more whimsical, like these birds, by Vicki Sawyer. Love the maple seed glasses. I also like abstract designs. I shy away from Impressionism, as just about everyone has received one of Monet’s Water Lilies by now.
I often write cards at the island in my kitchen, sometimes with a cup of coffee or tea, pen poised, and start by thinking about the person I’m writing to. I picture her or him in my mind – and then I start the conversation, seldom, it seems, with the word dear. It’s a one-way conversation, note writing, meaning I can say everything I want to say without interruption. Nice, right?
Sometimes, the people I write notes to write back. I stand at the mailbox at the end of my driveway, shuffling through the flyers and bills and stop, instantly, when I see handwriting on a small envelope – already I’m grinning. My reaction to receiving notes must be part of the reason I write them. Archaic and unnecessary maybe, but a handwritten note is still an expression of gratitude, empathy, and love.