I opened a letter last night from a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer. It began “Dear Ariel, this is not a Valentine letter, as I know you don’t celebrate it”. Obviously, this person knows me well. Scrawled across the four pages were a list of recommended books, a short overview of some current contemplations and, to conclude the letter, his feelings towards our friendship. There was no specific reason for this letter; he only wished to convey something nice with a personal touch. Monday, I received a brown envelope with a French return address. Remarkably, it only took three weeks to arrive from West Africa to land in my tiny post office. Last month a friend in Washington mailed me a note, along with homemade peanut butter cups. And for my birthday, my best friend wrote me a letter entirely with her left hand, due to a sprained wrist. Now that’s what I call love.
I used to treasure packages. Goodies galore, they made my physical life more comfortable. Recently I’ve started to prize the notes that come along with these packages over the merchandise itself. Sure, I get plenty of contact with friends and family over the internet. I could spend all day on Facebook and Gmail if it interested me. But it doesn’t, not in the slightest.
The ability to hold a piece of paper while reading its contents is something that warms my heart. It also seems to, without fail, cause a few tears to roll down my face. I’m not sure why handwritten notes elicit such an emotional response. Maybe it’s because someone had to sit down, find a piece of paper, a pen, and most often an address. They must decide what thoughts are significant enough to write in the confines of the limited amount of space their sheet of paper holds. It could be the fact that a loved one had touched the exact same material while they were writing, thinking of me, that I touch as I read their thoughts. Whatever it may be, I wish to convey to those of you out there who have written me, that although I may not have contacted you to say thank you, it really did mean the world.