July 7th, 2006

reverie: definition

Handwritten Letters

I'm terrible at communication. Okay, not all forms of communication. My problem lies in my bad timing. I tend to contact people at the most inopportune times, and it's quite annoying for me to watch this happen. It makes me feel like I'm not communicating to the world around me, like I can't express what I want just because I can't contact the person at the right time.

Maybe this is why I don't like telephones. I pick up a phone, dial a number, and someone else answers a few seconds later... most of the time. In my experience with telephones, though, the person on the other end of the line is typically otherwise occupied, not available for speaking, or is about to become one of the two. In other words, I'm really good at interrupting people.

I wish I could just write letters--the old-fashioned handwritten kind--for communication. Yes, I could use modern technology as well because we get along quite well (despite the immediacy that goes along with an instant message). Computers just don't have the same human feel that handwriting does. When I read a handwritten letter, I feel like a part of the person has been sent to me, almost as if the person has taken the time to choose words carefully. After all, backspacing is much more difficult in handwriting. Even with an eraser, we can still see the smudges.

I remember in middle school and high school when my friends and I would write notes to each other. I still have all of the ones addressed to me. They would be anything from "Hi Sujin! What's up? Blah blah blah. Your friend, Me" to much deeper thoughts swirling around that person's mind. Why does it make a difference to me? Saying it is one thing. Writing it down for me to read five years later, as I did today, is completely different.

I did that today. I found the box under my bed that contained all the notes that friends have written to me over the years, and I reread just about all of them. I read about crushes, code names for said crushes, oohing and aahing over cute things said crushes did, all those note-passing in Algebra I, a confrontation about a crush via note-passing, remnants of a friendship now gone awry, a friendship formed out of being outcasts, exploring our thoughts and emotions, and other such ideas. Some of these, especially the thought exploration, wouldn't have happened if not for handwritten letters. As Veronika, my partner in such adventures, pointed out (in a note, of course), our main source of communication was through notes and letters, and we went to the same school (we even had a class together!). I didn't really know her until the second half of the year (she was an exchange student from Ukraine during my first year of high school), but during the few months that I did know her, we wrote so many long letters that I wonder if we left any topic unexplored. If we did, surely it wasn't intentional. We just wrote what the letters told us to write.

Maybe my love of handwriting is why I always smile when I see a human signature on letters. It shows that someone out there cared enough to put in some effort--however minimal--to make a cut-and-pasted letter look personal. I hope that one day, no matter what I do, I can do the same and not look like an automated robot.