Words | Letters

cather-letters-4Photo Courtesy of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

There are few other pleasures in my day that compare to checking the mail (I don’t care how lame that sounds), second only to finding flowers on my doorstep. I love the possibility of receiving a magazine, a card—especially one that is sent at random and not holiday related.  But what I love the most is something much more rare, and therefore much more exciting: receiving a letter in the mail. Letter writing is this seemingly antiquated activity, but soldiers still do it, and thankfully so do those who love that you love getting letters. I’m sure part of my deep love and longing is knowing how much patience is required with letters. A letter cannot be sent in a few minutes with a click of a button; that’s email. A letter cannot be sent over the phone; that’s a text message. A letter, whether typed or handwritten (the best of the best) takes time to craft. And once you’ve dotted that last “i” and perfected your signature—mine is “Always, Samantha Marie” or for Madeleine, the girl I love more than words: “Always, Aunt Samantha“—you send it off, knowing that days will pass before it reaches its destination. If you’re lucky enough, you will partake in a back and forth letter swap with someone, where anticipation fills in the space between your next stamped treasure. Letters are so fascinating in fact that we have collected and bound them, like Willa Cather’s. Her signature, as shown above, is one of my absolute favorites.  And maintaining the sanctity of snail mail is of the utmost important to Chicago-based letter lovers: The Letter Writer’s Alliance. I’ve been a member for a few years, and enjoy having pen pals from all over the country. But, my new reason to check my mail before even putting down my bags is knowing that any day I could be reading a Rumpus letter.  I have found new authors, who have allowed me to emote like crazy (mostly laughter, but some gasps), and seeing each writer’s return address makes me feel connected to them somehow. Wondering if that was the exact location where they wrote to me, though I know the letter is sent to numerous people, is simply wonderful. My hope is that through crafting my own correspondence will inspire others, and if not…well, that’s never stopped me from doing other things I love, and this is no different.  

Always, Samantha Marie


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