I think I had a pen pal when I was twelve. He was from a different country, but for the life of me I cannot remember where. It was something set up in my school, my class was writing to a class in -Mexico?- We wrote two letters. The last batch of letters got lost in the mail, and then I think my teachers just gave up on it.
I remember sending a picture of myself. I told him my favorite past time (playing in my woods and skating...) and my favorite food and about my enormous family because that is a favorite subject of mine. Mainly because I have the coolest brothers in the world. And sisters, but the sisters were itty then, so there wasn't much to tell about them. "Boo learned how to say fork today, we are so proud." Before the letters stopped I day dreamed that this boy would end up being my future husband, and what a story we would have. Even at twelve I dreamt of marriage.
The year after high school one of my friend's and I decided to stay in touch via letters, but it became difficult because we both changed addresses too many times and Facebook just seemed easier. Then when I was living in Copenhagen I tried again, but the postal system was too difficult for me (or maybe I was just too lazy to figure it out) (and buying stamps scared me because I had to use my terrible Danish).
But I absolutely love getting things in the mail! Except for lately I have been getting only bank statements and bills - awesome. I love getting fun things that are filled with happiness, something little to brighten a day. That may be the lamest sentence ever, but it is exactly what I think letters are. Happiness.
The other day I got a tweet from the wonderful Kelsey at Harbor Cottage asking if I wanted help accomplishing number 25. I jumped at the chance. So we exchanged mailing addresses and today, I wrote the first letter.
Except, hold up, how do you write a good letter to someone you don't really know? I have to admit I think I sounded like the twelve year old that first had a pen pal. I was overly giddy, all over the place. Just throwing out facts and ideas and observations about the most random things. Poor Kelsey. Also, poor Kelsey because my handwriting is not very pretty. Sorry!
About a page and a half in I had no idea what to write anymore but realized I hadn't really written anything of substance. So I googled "how to write to a pen pal" because I am super cool like that. Ehow.com can tell me how! It gave a list of things you "need" which included an etiquette book. I started to freak that I didn't have an etiquette book, I began to google it, but realized that I was not going to actually get one, or read one, so I just hoped that I had the proper etiquette I needed to write a letter. What would that be? Maybe I should google it.
Then it bullet pointed things to say - your age, if you had a pet, what your hobbies were, if you had children, what your favorite color was.
And it said to make sure to write things people would find interesting. And then it told me to be courteous and not overwhelm the reader. So I finished the letter with "I'm 23." Because I didn't want to overwhelm her. And what if she didn't think my pet Max was interesting? Or what if she hated my favorite color? And then we could never be friends!
I actually said a little bit more but I don't want to say because Kelsey will read this and then what was the point of sending the letter to her? And also I don't want to overwhelm all of you with too much information about me. Like how I sleep with a teddy bear named Ellie or my obsession Vermont food. That would be maple syrup, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and Cabot Cheddar cheese. Something you should all love. I love them. Maybe not all at once... well... no, not all at once. And I have an idea for give a way! But that shall be another post.
I have already started to think about all the fun letters and trinkets I will send to her, and all the post cards she will get on my road trip/move down to Texas! It is so fun to have someone to send things too. I am so excited about that part, I almost forgot she'll be sending me letters too! Why did corresponding my letters become so old fashioned? It should be a timeless thing, don't you think?
DO YOU WANT A PEN PAL?? It turns out that Cait and I were on the same wave length with this pen pal thing and she is putting together a wonderful project. So if you want to take part in it, head on over and let her know. Also, become a follower! When she gets 500 she will do a give a way! And maybe you'll win!