It occurred to me today as I was opening and responding to a series of emails that there was a day when we actually sent letters.
My Grandmother was a prolific letter writer. In addition to Christmas cards to all of her friends and family every year like clockwork, she also loved to sit down and narrate her life to her long address book full of contacts. I fondly remember her, at the small table in her tiny kitchen, with a stack of envelopes in front of her writing up a storm. She would tell all of her friends about the goings on with the family, write about me and my exploits (always the proud Grandma) and then wet the stamp with her little sponge in a tiny pool of water and drop them in the mailbox and raise the red flag. She received and sent letters and cards every single day.
Then she would wait. For days. The anticipation of getting a letter in return was one of her favorite things. While my memories may be incorrect, I think I listened with interest as she excitedly read to me the letters she had received. I may have not liked it, but I loved my grandmother so much I certainly made an effort. It meant everything to her.
Today, the only thing we wait days for is Amazon. And if you have Prime you don’t wait long. Correspondence is now instantaneous. Literally lightning fast. For those of us who knew a world before the internet it should give a nostalgic feeling. While I hated it when I was younger, I now see the value of delayed gratification as I plod through a world built around instant gratification. Instant gratification fades fast and is less pronounced compared to the feeling of sending a girlfriend a letter from Basic Training or from summer camp or whatever and then waiting patiently for a response. Once the response came you read it and reread it, sometimes it smelled like perfume and if I was really lucky there would be a picture with it. I carried the letter with me everywhere I went. It doesn’t feel the same as rereading an email on my phone or tablet.
I wish the world would just slow the hell down.