What It's Like to Have Pen Pals

Absence Sharpens Love It's a lot like this:

  • You get mail. About as regularly as you send it.
  • You often gain deeper relationships with someone in a shorter period of time than 'real life' relationships.
  • You have people in your life that can offer you objectivity on all sorts of things. The value on that is high.
  • You have people that are neither friends, nor are they family. They are neither colleagues nor are they coworkers. They are pen pals. It is a different thing altogether. Yes, they are friends, but really, they are something more than that. They are pen pals.
  • You have space in your life not only for writing, but also for contemplation; thought.
  • You are constantly developing your writing skills and your ability to articulate your own opinions.
  • You become a better conversationalist.
  • Life is a little bit richer.
  • You tend to be more grounded. The act of reading mail, responding—it is the opposite of go-go-go.
  • You become a go-to source of postal knowledge. "What's the current postage rate?"
  • You notice stamps. You always have stamps.
  • You know about—and notice—paper, pens, inks, ephemera. These things will matter to you in some way, and you will likely have opinions on them.
  • You learn, all the time. About other people, about other ways of life, about all kinds of stuff.

As a bit of an aside, I think when you write letters over time, the general effect it has on an individual is that you end up a better version of yourself. Simply because over time, you introduce yourself to different people all by hand. This repetition, and the interactions that follow, allow for contemplation on the self. It's like a form of meditation, perhaps. Pen pals allow for a deeper level—or maybe just another facet of— interaction. I think too, you have the potential to at least become more honest with yourself, and thereby, with others.