Letter-writing is something we often associate with the years before phones and computers. Nowadays, it’s so easy to keep in touch with friends and family over text and email, that letter-writing has fallen out of common practice. I love letter-writing because it feels tremendously more personal than a short ‘Hi, how are you?’ text message, which will inevitably be responded to with a ‘Good thanks, what about you?’. Watching my mum write letters since I was young has instilled in me a desire to put pen to paper rather than finger to screen, and has also made me realise the creative potential of writing letters, which can allow you to reflect properly on your day, week, or month with a friend who you know will respond back with an equally reflective and insightful letter.
Letter-writing also develops a feeling of closeness to the person you are writing to. Similarly, receiving a hand-written letter feels extremely personal, and makes me incredibly grateful that someone has taken the time out of their day to write something to me, which they then proceed to fold up in an envelope post into a letterbox.
Having known that I enjoy writing letters, I decided that I was going to find a penpal from a different country when I was 16. I really wanted to learn more about another culture, and connect with someone who I had never met before. After a bit of searching, I found various websites and forums that were built purely for people to find penpals. I posted an advertisement on a penpal forum on Tumblr (I know, how very 2016 of me), and received an email from a lovely girl in Hungary. We exchanged a few emails, and then our addresses. Since then, we have written to each other approximately once a month for the last 5 years.
My epistolary relationship with her gives me a lot of joy, because I’ve never had a friendship that feels so connected despite us never having met one another. We are both interested in very similar things: crafts, Wes Anderson, reading and films, and finding someone I would otherwise never have met is something I really cherish. We have been penpals through the highs and the lows of each other’s lives, and she feels like a really great friend to me, despite never having met face-to-face. I hope to one day fly to Budapest and meet her in person!