The familiar sound of the white jeep slowing, pausing in front of our mailbox, and then driving away reached my waiting ears. I bounded across the porch, took one step down and then vaulted over the other two onto the grass. Over the lawn I flew, then leap, leap, leap, down the bank, across the driveway, and up the other bank in three great strides. My momentum carried me the rest of the way to the mailbox in a few more skips, and then I was there. Opening the mailbox, I saw what I had been hoping for. An envelope with the scrolling handwriting of my dear friend and a few beautifully drawn flowers adorning the front was soon held fast in my hands. A smile of delight crossed my face and I reversed the order of my skips, leaps, and bounds to make my way back to the house. Once inside, I read the letter, savoring every word-filled page. As soon as possible after I finished reading it, I pulled out my stationary and began writing a reply, keeping my friend’s letter close by as I replied to everything in her letter and then added my own pieces of news, filling the sheets with my handwriting. As soon the pages of news were told, I embellished the envelope with some flower drawings of my own or a sticker or two and sent letter off in the mail to my friend, and the period of waiting for a reply began anew. As this process continued over the course of several years I amassed quite a collection of letters and carefully saved them, preserving each chapter in the chronicles of a special friendship away in a box beneath my bed after they had been thoroughly savored.
Time passed, and the letters began to be interspersed with a new method of communication: email. Back to the computer desk I went and pushed the button on our desktop computer. While I waited for it to start up I would read a book, do some schoolwork, or brush my teeth, whichever the time of day called for. Impatiently I waited. Would there be anything in my inbox or not? Finally, it was loading…. Yes! Amidst all the other mundane emails, there was that name in highlights that I was hoping to see. I read the words on the screen, enjoying every line of text. Soon I began my reply, typing my own blocks of text, my emails as long and wordy as my letters. Only now the periods of waiting were shorter, the replies coming faster; a day, a few hours, or even a few minutes later. My friend never deleted a single email…it took me a little longer to start saving them, but now the important ones are stored in a special folder in my email, never to be deleted.
Then came the day of instant messaging. Again I sat at the desk in front of the boxy computer screen, trying to solve one of my first technological problems: installing aol instant messenger. Would it work? It looked like it might not. But my brother saved the day and helped me solve the problem, and before I knew it I was chatting with my friend, hearing the marimba-like “do-do-do” sound of each message that was sent and received. Now we could “talk” to each other instantly – no waiting for replies!
Our friendship has deepened over the countless hours we’ve spent talking this way, sitting in front of the desktop computers and now our own laptops, our fingers flying over the keys as fast as they can, laughing and crying together as the circumstances have dictated. The focus of our conversations has shifted from high school to college and careers, and has ranged over every topic from hair, to sewing, to dreams for the future, to driving, to organ donation, to spiritual things, to everywhere else and back.
Our friendship has largely been a long-distance one, and even though the distance between us is greater than ever, the modes of communication and technology available to us do a great deal to make the miles seem a little bit shorter. And while I still miss getting a hand-written letter every now and then, I am thankful for the many easy (and cheaper!) ways we have to stay in touch. Even though life has grown busier and our chats and emails are not as frequent as they once were, our friendship is still as sweet as ever, its history tucked away in boxes beneath beds and folders on our computers, reminders of days and conversations gone by.
*FYI – this post was written for the “Post a Day” weekly challenge I came across on the WordPress Daily Post blog. The challenge for this week was to write a post having to do with email, and to use the “Post by Email” tool. I drafted and published my post directly from my email account and even titled, categorized, and added some pictures (although I did end up tweaking the pictures and tags from the regular dashboard. It was a neat learning experience and I had fun with it! Hope you enjoyed reading it. 🙂