When I was a kid, I always wanted a pen-pal. I had dreams of having “friends” around the world I had never met and sharing with them my dreams, hopes, thoughts and ideas. I think I even tried tying a letter to a balloon once and letting it go in hopes that it would land in some other little girls’ arms and I would create a new best friend half-way across the country (I had no notion at the time of some creepy pedophile finding it with my HOME ADDRESS.)
Then the internet came along and I could chat with people half-way across the world! No postage required! In fact, I have three friends to this day that I met through the ‘random’ feature on ICQ. Two of them I even met face to face.
With email, facebook, texting and twitter, though, I find myself longing to write real, old-fashioned snail mail letters. I write to my grandma once every two weeks, send letters or Christmas cards out (which inevitably ended up on my shelf with dust because I never bought stamps and I’m really sorry I never mailed you Christmas cards, guys)…but I still longed for a true pen-pal. Someone I had never met and could write pages and send newspaper clippings or pictures to.
And, through the power of the internet, I have found a new pen-pal.
I spend a lot of time on Craigslist. I read through all the sections; free stuff, barter, housing (in case I find a mouse-free, awesome three bedroom), MC, personals, rants and raves….all of it. Often times it’s pretty amusing and sometimes I even post. I ended up posting a response to something and a girl wrote me back saying something akin to “Wow, you sound really cool. I’d like to be friends but the catch is I’m going tree-planting for three months. I leave on Monday. Want to be pen-pals?”
I jumped at the chance and gave her my work address (because I’m smart enough now not to give a stranger my home address, and I’ve also got a nifty little ‘panic’ button at work that calls security). She left yesterday and we are both awaiting each other’s first piece of mail. (She later told me she never thought I would reply with an eager “Yes!” She calls it unconventional).
So now I have correspondence with a total stranger. I know her name and I know that she’s tree-planting in BC until June and has a dog….and that’s all I know. I’m hoping through letters to find out more about her and see what she’s about. Maybe we can be friends in real life when she gets back from BC. Though it could happen that we discover that we can’t be friends face-to-face. It sounds silly, but as anyone that does online dating knows, it can happen. No matter how great correspondence is with someone via email, face-to-face is completely different. What if my new pen-pal and I have great letters and send each other great things…but totally suck at being friends in ‘real life’? What if the letters stop? What if she’s a total racist or something?
I guess, as with any relationship, I’ll just have to go into it with optimism, eagerness and be open to new possibilities and ideas; every relationship starts with the element of risk and heartache, but you can’t let that stop you from licking the stamp.