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Recently, I got my very own post office box.  Up until a week ago, I’ve always had my mail delivered directly to my house or apartment.  Now, I have to get off the freeway an exit early, drive through 3 stop lights and find parking in the busiest parking lot in town: the Post Office/Trader Joes shared parking lot.  I park a block away, walk inside,  and then try to find my little box in the maze of copper walls.  Every time I insert my key, I make a little wish that something unexpected -{in a good way}- will be waiting for me.  I flip through from my Verizon Wireless bill to my bank statement to my Restoration Hardware catalog to health care bill.  That’s it.  No surprise package from a family member, no letter from a long lost love or a distant penpal.  So I get back in my car, back through the stop lights, back on the freeway, and head home.

Before bed, I log on to my Gmail and read through a couple emails from my mom and siblings, some Facebook messages and Twitter DMs, and maybe, if I’m lucky, an email from on of my Italian friends I met last summer in Rome.

In my closet sits shoebox after shoebox of letters.  Letters from friends and boyfriends and pen-pals.  Many of them are written on brightly colored paper and folded into special origami shapes that were passed in class, while others are written on notepaper and carefully placed into envelopes received from the other end of the country -or further.

Looking through all these precious letters,  I notice the dates on them: 1992, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2004.  Then they just stop.  It makes me sad that although I’ve kept in contact with almost all of these friends, I have no physical proof.  I have no idea what their handwriting looks like, or how they would truly write if they took the time to handcraft a letter.  And they having nothing from me.

It makes me wonder, even with all the technology today, why did we stop writing letters to each other?  I understand that now we just email or tweet or post or instant message each other, but when and why did we stop feeling the need to pick out a pretty piece of paper and our nicest pen and sit down to write something to a dear friend?  We all live busy lives and most of us barely have time to respond to the email we already have, let alone stop by the stationary store, pick out paper, sit down, write our thoughts, and then go by the post office to ship it off.

Here’s what I intent to do about it:

I’m going to write down 25 people I miss on a piece of paper.  Get the mailing addresses for everyone.  I’m going to swing by this little stationary boutique (conveniently on the same block as the post office) and pick out the prettiest paper & envelopes I can find and buy the cutest stamps.  Then, anytime I have a little break in my day or before bed, I’m going to pick someone off my list and write them a letter.

And, hopefully they will write back.

Photo courtesy: 1

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