Love, Letters, and Love Letters

Love, Letters, and Love Letters

Photo Credit: Simona Sergi via Unsplash

A call to reflection and self-expression

Julliana “Yanni” Santos, Managing Editor

Darling, dearest, &etc… such endearments, while often difficult to voice out, might find their home more naturally on paper. Such words take an easy refuge on the page. I would argue that the affordance of ease in language makes letter-writing a meaningful and relevant mode of communication. I would like to make a case for a return to letters: dear reader, write letters to those you love – even past Valentine’s Day. Think of the joy, the delight, and the lasting memory one might hold in receiving a letter from you. It’s your voice, trusted to someone else’s hands – what greater romantic (platonic, love-abiding, love-forthcoming) gesture could there be?

To aid you in your letter-writing journey, here are a few tips from someone who has been writing for quite a while now:

  1. Be bold. We begin our letters boldly, writing “dear,” to show in shorthand just how much a person might mean to us. Letters take physical effort and a deliberate slowing-down. They are snapshots into a moment of thought, thoroughly dedicated to the recipient. So use it! When you write to a person, you have time to think and to embellish. This is your chance to say what might not be said – to focus on the small, to expand on the vast, and to be yourself in a tangible way for someone in the future to read. Take heart and lay your heart on the page, in any way you feel. 
  2. Have fun! Letters are fun. I don’t mean that each one needs to be a ray of sunshine. Some of my most sincere expressions of doubt and sadness exist in letter form. What I mean though, is one need not get caught in aesthetic or convention. If you want to end your letter with “applause to the birdsong,” or “may your dreams be filled with cake,” or some other inside, near-nonsensical joke, go for it! Nothing’s stopping you. Want to write in lecture-note style? Feel like writing in sparkle-pen? Want to send a mysterious postcard collage of a goat wearing a cape in a field? Take this as your sign to go for it.
  3. Paper is in everything. I mean everything. You don’t need some fancy cardstock for your letter, though if you’d like some, by all means go ahead. I’ve written notes and letters on the backs of receipts, scrawled in scraps of table napkins, marked on newspaper pages, and printed on candy wrappers. I’ve received embroidery, lace, and souvenirs of small, flat, paper-like things from many places. Call it “ephemera.” Call it love.
  4. Take your time. Take your time to write, in a place you’d like to write. Letters capture moods. Want to write to someone on your subway-ride home? The jilting of your pen will show the journey of your ride. Write when you like, but take the time to write. That’s the value in this gift: your time. It doesn’t so much matter what deep or detailed content you include. What matters is you.
  5. Write with abandon. Write to anyone you love or want to show your love to. I promise it is worth it and I couldn’t recommend it more. On the days when life feels too fast or too dim, reading letters from my loved ones and writing to others lifts me up in a reflective and healing way I know I can attest to.

Reflecting on my time writing for The Mike, I have to admit that a lot of my articles are centered around letters. I can’t help it. I’m the co-president of a letter-writing club (Missives: Adventures in Letter-Writing) after all. I don’t believe that one needs distance or delay to express one’s love, but time and tangible effort will always hold true. You don’t need to send a letter across the ocean (though that would be lovely). You don’t need any fancy paper or postage. Sometimes a love letter is something small, handed directly to someone who means a great deal to you. I can only write from experience, but from what I know: it is worth it. All these little things are worth it in the vastness of our lives.

I hope I’ve convinced you to give letter-writing a try. At the very least (though not at all any less!) I’d say try for a note or two. Even to yourself! I guarantee you’ll learn a lot in the process, beyond what you might expect.

I’ll end this with my usual letter-ending signature, borrowed from a dear friend of mine: with love, cake, &etc.