Saturday, November 24, 2007

Old letters

We're unpacking, and still lack internet access. But here I am, taking a break at the public library.

Today, in the course of unpacking, I came upon a box filled with memorabilia from my college and just-post-college years. They consist of sports programs and theater programs (which I'm keeping...they'll be awesome in our dream basement...guests here for sporting events can grab a random program from a random sporting event from my past!).

And letters. A fair amount of letters. These are from back in the days when we wrote letters.

I suppose that generation X are probably the last generation who have permanently documented many of their friendships and relationships in paper form. People even 8 or 9 years younger than me had email ubiquity by the time they got to college. I admit I've saved a few emails...in fact, I encountered a printout of some favorite college emails today--but it's simply not the same. The tactile sense of friendship in a letter...I prefer that.

That said, I had saved way more back in the early 90s than I felt the need to hang onto today. I set aside a couple of the more sentimental or historically significant ones, and started to toss many of the rest...

and then I thought of something that my parents did recently.

When my folks lived in Mexico, I sent them a letter just about every week. They were simple, wacky, journalistic things, where I'd tell them what I was up to and try to make them laugh. Recently, and much to my surprise, they offered to give them back to me. They felt that the diary-like content would be more valuable to me than they were to them. At first, I guess it felt funny...I had surrendered ownership, and I guess I wondered if it was like sending back a gift. But their point...that they were valuable as a historical document to me more than to them--was legitimate.

So I surveyed the letters from four high school buddies. Three I'm in sporadic contact with; one I last spoke to about three years ago, and prior to that, it was more like ten years. Letters that were about me--mostly advice about whatever my crisis du jour may have been--I tossed. Letters that were mostly about them--going over the daily lives of their senior years of high school, first couple of years of college, junior years abroad--I set into a pile.

And here's where you come in.

Would it be stalkerish to offer to send these to my old friends? I'm incredibly grateful that each were my friends during those topsy-turvy years, and these little bits of news from them were wonderful. But I don't need them anymore. The misadventures of X's freshman roommate or the challenges of Y's women's studies classes aren't needed in my box-o'-memorabilia anymore. But they might be very valuable to my old friends.

If an old buddy you were sporadically in contact with (but still consider a friend--we've all been invited to each other's weddings, etc) offered you the letters you sent him/her in another era, how would you feel? Would you accept?

2 comments:

Joe said...

You know, it would be weird, but I'd definitely accept.

And, for the record, we own an old computer of virtually no value, except for the fact that the hard drive is where I archived all the important email when I left my last job. Not the same as a letter, no... almost more like a locked box which you know has letters in it... but it's still important.

Jenni said...

Of course. Why would it be stalkerish? It's much less stalkerish than Facebook and My Space. You're not trying to violate any one, you're trying to give them a piece of their life back.