My love for snail mail started when I was a kid. My grandma and cousins sent me letters from Sierra Leone from as far back as I can remember. I loved getting their letters addressed to little ole me. I cherished them and kept them in a little shoebox. When I got older and actually learned to write, I begged my mom to allow me to have my very own pen pal. And from the back of a 90’s kids magazine she found one. My first pen pal was Maureen from the Philippines. We were both 9, loved stickers and reading. The makings of a beautiful friendship. We wrote obsessively for years about cartoons, books, boys, everything! I still have most of her letters and gifts. Her letters will always stand out to me. Thin envelopes stamped “Airmail”– inside was always the most beautiful stationery. I still can not get over her handwriting. It was so neat, perfectly spaced and perfectly sized even on line less paper. Seeing a letter from Maureen in my mailbox always brightened my day. Throughout elementary and junior high school I gained more pen pals through FB’s(Friendship Books). Remember those?! In case you don’t, I’ll tell you all about them. Back in the day, we didn’t have a message board to connect with prospective pen pals. We had to do it via snail mail and FB’s were the way to do it.
“FB’s are little booklets made by stapling paper together, or are sometimes just sheets or strips of paper. They are usually decorated and the person who starts the book writes their name and address as the first person sending the book. People often include a list of interests as well. The FB is then passed around from penpal to penpal, and can often also become a way for one to meet new penpals. Most people hope to see the book again once it is full so they add their return address to the back cover of the book too, or inscribe “Return to Sender” on it.”
Even though I gained a lot of pen pals through FBs, I didn’t keep in touch with them. Maureen and I did until we both went off to college. We send the occasional birthday card, but we mostly keep in touch via Facebook.
In college, my love for snail mail took a break. I didn’t start writing letters/postcards again until I moved to The Netherlands. There I sent tons of letters/postcards from my travels across Europe, museums, or just letters to send some joy in the mail. My roommate and I had a Sunday tradition of going to a cafe, having a coffee, some girl-talk, and writing letters. It was quite lovely and a habit I’ve continued, though not as often. Luckily, I’ve discovered two snail mail groups that have sparked my love of sending snail mail again! International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club and The Snail Mail Collective. Check them out!
Did you have a pen pal when you were growing up? Do you still send letters/postcards? If you’d like a postcard from me, drop me a line with your address! I’d be happy to spread some joy to you too.
“I’m a geek for” is a new monthly link up created by MagicCatJenny . Head over to her blog to see what others had to say about their love for snail mail!