|(This photo has no relevance, except that maybe I will say something similar to you if you catch me on a good day.)|
I want to write you a letter.
The idea came to me in class, right after we’d done a group activity where we were to write to our future selves.
“Here are your envelopes!” I’d shrilled across the convent’s classroom, handing them out one-by-one. “Put in your letter and address it to yourself. And don’t forget, English is fun!”
I say that to them a lot. I tried saying “Conditionals are fun!” once, and they nearly spat on me. English is fun they swallow whole though, because I have a tendency to shout it when I’m wearing a wig and a tutu.
Related: I love my job.
After eight of them had approached me individually to say, “Laura, do I write the address like this? Or like this?” and nearly all the envelopes were handed to me without being sealed, I understood that they didn’t know how to send a letter.
THEY. DIDN’T. KNOW. HOW. TO. SEND. A. LETTER.
And fuck, these are the brightest kids of them all. They entered projects in order to be considered for this summer camp, and then underwent psychological testing, and when they get here they are expected to rise at 6.30 a.m. every day to swim at the beach and then happily complete a day scheduled day fuller than Jenna Jameson’s bra. If any kids were gonna know how to send a letter, it’d be them.
I think they understood the theory. The actual letter is kind of like an email: you put a name at the top and then you say things and then you say bye and write your name at the bottom with a kiss. That bit was plain sailing.
But then there was the huge gap of knowledge in what one is actually supposed to do with that piece of paper when one is finished drawing hearts at the top of the page, and how it gets to the intended recipient.
Even the way some of the students held their envelopes was as if they were unfamiliar with touching the goddamn things.
“But, you must know how to prepare a letter,” I said. “Even if you don’t send them, you must receive mail.”
At which point the raised eyebrows and unimpressed faces told me that actually, no. They didn’t receive letters. Those looks told me that, Laura. There is a little thing called the Internet, you know.
And then I realised that I didn’t start to get mail until I was 18, and even then it was only from the bank. HELL. EVEN NOW IT’S ONLY FROM THE BANK.
The bank and the student loans company. Hey, adulthood!
I found myself shaking my head like a woman with eighty years on me. Kids today…
I’ve heard rumours and whispers of this new generation who grew up with wifi and computers and the Internet, and so don’t read books or make dens in the garden or invent characters to have conversations with in their imaginations.
I know the Daily Mail often publishes outraged stories about kids who have never seen paper copies of encyclopedias, or can’t use a dictionary because they’ve never had to learn because if you type into a search bar an approximation comes up so why do you even need to know the alphabet, anyway?
But, I mean… that can’t be actually real. Can it?
Turns out, it totally is, and I’ve seen it first hand. There’s a generation out there that don’t know how exciting it is to go to the post office and buy stamps, send something far away and wait days to know whether or not it arrived.
They don’t know how it feels to see their name on the doormat, and wonder who thought enough of them to take the time to scribe something longhand, and in the good pen too.
Bollocks, I hardly remember the last time I got something in the post just because. Or- and this is where it gets interesting- when I last sent something in the post just because.
I’M PROPOSING A REVOLUTION.
A letter-writing revolution.
And I don’t mean this to sound creepy or anything, but I’d like to start with you. I’m totally serious. Send me an email with your address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I promise I will:
1. Not sell that information to anyone or anything ever in the history or future of the universe. Not even if they are really cute.
2. Write you a letter. On paper. Using a pen. And I’ll lick the envelope myself.
I know it’s totally stupid and ridiculous but essentially, I thought it'd be nice. Also: the irony of having you email your address to me is not lost.
Go on. Let me write you a letter.