One of my favorite Saturday afternoon activities is entering a stationary store only to find the perfect card for a loved one, or a classic correspondence set with a special detail such as a gold deckled edge or a simple monogram. Once I turned 27, it became clear to me that at least one desk drawer must be well stocked with stationary, a fine tipped pen, personalized return address labels, and a booklet of stamps. It was one of those rites of passages that helped cement my place into adulthood and putting my grandmother Mimi’s advice into action. She always prided herself on spelling, penmanship, and her way with words.
In a time where texts, emails, documents, computer programs, magazines, newspapers, bills, books, and official correspondences are composed of typography, our eyes have been accustomed to this standard yet sterile presentation of acquiring and processing written information. All throughout high school, I still had to write rough drafts by hand before typing up my papers in order to compose my thoughts. It wasn’t until university did I learn how to directly sit down at the computer and convey my ideas. However, I still jump at the chance to scribble down notes, recipes, shopping lists, and Sunday morning letters served with breakfast.
There is something beautiful and timeless about writing a handwritten letter — returning to the art form of the mind and heart making a perfect union together with pen and paper. Letting ink take shape in your best penmanship on carefully chosen paper regarding color, texture, and its design. For a more intimate experience, scenting it with a signature fragrance, and sealing it with a red wax heart or delicate adhesive.
Being in a long distance relationship across the Atlantic felt like I was on a turn-of-the-century steam liner. Slow, emotions that felt like the changing ocean — at times tranquil and other times stormy, awaiting the point of return which at times never felt it would arrive, but when it did, the memories at “sea” no longer existed. Finding modes of romantic and sincere gestures to express this sentiment only made sense through traditional letter writing — the excitement of sending the letters off via airmail and awaiting the recipient’s response after its two to three week arrival.
On month before he turned 31, I compiled a diverse range of 30 citations, affirmations, and phrases ranging from classic to contemporary written by various philosophers, poets, and writers. Afterwards, I translated all of them in Italian to the best of my ability. Accrue paper and envelopes were selected and shared the same scalloped edge, adorned with an antique brown pen. Sitting at the dining room table after 12-hour days, my true work began. The long month of January passed by with warmth. I felt that each letter I wrote and scented brought me that much closer to him. On the final night, I penned his 31st letter and executed the sealing method. They were all complete; one more beautiful than the next. I collected and stacked them in order — tied with a silver ribbon and wrapped them in my white cashmere scarf. The intention was to have the words, the touch of my hand, and comfort envelope him. The next day, they were shipped off…