Public Pen Pals: The First Installment

I’m an avid letter writer. I often fail to write “creatively” on a regular basis, but it occurred to me that I put a lot of my thoughts and creative energy into the letters I send out to friends and family. So I thought I’d try to combine my desire to write more things for people to read with my love of letter writing, by asking people to write me letters that I will respond to publicly. I think letter writing creates the same type of intimacy you get when having a one-on-one conversation with someone, without all the discomforts of sharing a space with someone or feeling the need to respond immediately. It allows for a more attentive listening and thoughtful response. I think, in these strange new times, person-to-person connections and safe spaces where people can share their stories and be heard is important. I am not here to give advice, but just to listen and to share my own thoughts and feelings in return.

I started out asking a handful of friends who are frequent pen pals to write to me to get the ball rolling, but if you read this and feel the desire to write me a letter, I would love to hear from you. Unfortunately, at the moment I am only accepting letters via e-mail, but I encourage you to handwrite and then type or scan them as I think the letters are best not edited or overly curated.

Dear Ann-

I miss you so much dude. I wish I were sitting with you, drinking coffee, making fun of all the people in their puffy coats. Instead, I am sitting in my bed, wearing this ridiculous ankle length fleece robe that I took from my grandma. You would love it. 

I always thought it was annoying when my elders would talk about how fast time goes when you’re older. I mean, it seems like time should go the same speed for everyone, ya know? But I think I see what they were saying now. I try to keep track of the years and the months, try to count backwards, but it become increasingly difficult and disorienting. 

I’ve been talking about holding onto and letting go of people and how painful both those things can be. I’m a holder onner for sure. I want there to be enough room in my pockets for everyone. I always joke that once someone is in my life they’re stuck with me forever. It’s rare for me to completely lose touch. But it’s what I enjoy, you know? Like some people like to travel and go on adventures or party or whatever it is other people do in their free time, but I like to stay in touch. I call people, I write them letters, I text them, sometimes I just sit and think about them. Sometimes I think this makes me seem boring, but honestly fuck that, people tend to underestimate the amount of energy I put in to staying in touch with all the lovely humans I know, it totally counts as a hobby/talent. I know that constant communication is not for everyone, and I am rarely offended when people don’t reciprocate. My only tip is this: when you’re thinking of someone, tell them. It’s so easy to do with cellphones and there is nothing more pleasant than getting a message out of the blue that says “Hi, miss you, you amazing shining star of a human.” 

To answer your last question, where was I when I heard Trump was President? I was sitting at home in my pajamas. I had been sick for two days before the election and on election day finally felt better enough to go to work and I remember going in saying “IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY TO ELECT A FEMALE AS PRESIDENT” which will now haunt me for the rest of my days. I remember becoming increasingly worried as the night went on and I checked the various polls. I woke up the next day with post-election hang over. I went to work with a heavy brain/heart. But here is the glimmer: everyone at work was vulnerable and grieving and spent the day talking and taking care of each other. It was not a great day, but also it was a day where people were more forgiving of each other and more openly affectionate than usual. That has what I’ve found heartening in these strange times: people taking better care of each other and opening up and making room for each other. So I’m holding onto that whilst trying to keep a close eye on the warped darkness that seems to be moving in on us. 

I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for writing me and letting me share my response on the internet for people to read. You’re great. 



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