It is bizarre and beautiful to me that I have multiple shoeboxes full of hand-written letters from my college days — check-ins and postcards and playlists and inside jokes and flirtations and stick figure drawings and magazine clippings and reports from abroad and kitschy stickers and photos of parties and crushes and too many bare midriffs. I write letters so much less frequently now. What was it about that time that invited such frequent epistolarity? After all, email existed, as did AIM. I think it was the romance of it, the implied intimacy, the grown-up-ness. (I have handwritten letters in my own college mailbox!)
I wrote to my parents, too, during that time, even though we talked and emailed frequently. I have a couple of letters written on hotel letterhead from my travels abroad that my father marked in the upper right hand corner in thick black fountain ink: ELAINE – PLS RETURN. And I can just imagine the way he’d placed my epistles on her desk, on top of her closed laptop, but wanted them back for safekeeping in the straining accordion folders he kept for each of his children.
Letters are an act of love. They require physical exertion, mental planning or at least agility, and a trip to the post box. They cost postage and time. I wrote elsewhere that they are akin to “letting feelings dry on paper.” I have a couple of friends and family members with whom I email regularly and thoughtfully, but would love to get back into the habit of exchanging paper letters, as it dawned on me the other day that the only hand-written dispatches I’ve drafted over the past many months have been condolences and thank yous.
One thing that helps with getting back into the mode: beautiful paper products. And I am newly flush with it. I had the most spectacular and generous opportunity to design a custom set of stationery and enclosure cards with the gorgeous paper company Dear Elouise. These pieces are the truest reflection of my aesthetic preferences. Can you even deal with the gorgeous scalloped trim? The exquisite liner? The vintage-feeling letterpressed script?! I audibly swooned when I opened the box. I’ve had them sitting out in a tidy stack on the small table in my office since opening, as just seeing them adds a little elegance to my day. This is the personal stationery that belongs in the office of someone like Deeda Blair, with chinoiserie panels and everything upholstered in Schumacher and elegant vintage furniture and maybe one of those old-fashioned phones I imagine Lauren Bacall speaking on all the time. I lay claim to none of those possessions or attributes — but now I have the stationery, so a girl can dream. I am swooning.
A few other gorgeous paper and desktop products to consider:
CARAN D’ACHE PEN — MR. MAGPIE GAVE ME THIS AND I FEEL LIKE I NEED IT WHEN SIGNING IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
“SMALL THINGS” STORAGE BOX — PERFECT FOR STOWING PAPER CLIPS, PENS, PUSH PINS, RUBBER BANDS, STAMPS, ETC…
P.P.S. On pursuing English as a discipline.
P.P.P.S. What I strive to do every day: shake hands with a blank page.