Friday, 14 November 2014

I Miss My Grade 9 Love Letters

You know what makes me sad, especially as a girl who has been a writer most of her life? With texting and instant messaging, and all the other electronic communication devices at our disposal, we are slowly loosing the art of letter writing. I'm not even talking about formal letters that contain an address at the top and a formal salutation. I'm talking about the good ol' fashion letters we used to pass to our friends in school, hoping we wouldn't get caught and humiliated by the teacher. I'm sure kids still pass letters around today, but they definitely have more options than we did when it comes to communicating.

A few years back, me and a few of my best friends from grade school got together to read the letters (most of them to and from boyfriends) we had kept so well preserved from our childhood. We sat back with a few cocktails on my deck and pulled out our boxes and bags of letters. And do you remember the crafty, origami-like folding that was involved?

We each took turns pulling a letter out of our magic stash, and read them out loud. I even read from my diary, which at various parts, actually dissed my two friends. Just silly things like "I can't believe so and so. She thinks she's so cool just because she has Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth perfume." They didn't take it too personally.  And boy, did we laugh. Like full-on belly laughs. It was so good for the soul!

Since this little exercise, I've been lucky enough to stumble upon this hilarious podcast from the CBC called "Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids". It was hosted by Dan Misener, and it basically features grownups reading stories, letters or diaries from their childhood, on stage, in front of an audience. There are no new episodes but you can still listen to the podcasts. Every time I've listened to it, I literally LOL. Which reminds me, there were no LOLs in my letters. Back in the 90s, we used to call it "ha ha ha". I'm like, so old.

I think what makes this podcast particularly adorable, is that most of the people in the crowd grew up in the same era, and probably hear a lot of themselves in the stories and letters that are shared. It's probably the reason why there is such a roar from the audience. My favourite stories are those when you hear these adults share how their childhood-selves pictured their future lives as grownups. Some of the ridiculous notions they came up with were beyond hilarious.

What prompted me to write about this is seeing my own daughter write in her diary at the ripe old age of 8. I haven't actually read any of the excerpts, because it's private, but I'm just so happy she is writing for the sake of writing. I know they do lots of writing at school but there is something so delicious about writing down your thoughts and dreams on paper. It's something I still do today but in the form of goal setting and gratitude journaling. Pen on paper is still the best. I don't care what gadgets we have. It's our personal mark on the world. I hope everyone continues to write, old school.

So do yourself a favour, listen to this podcast! It makes me feel so nostalgic and happy. I'm sure you'll feel the same way. Do you still have your old letters and diaries? And if I can find mine (yes, I've misplaced them), I will definitely share an excerpt or two.

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