Lessons in Love: My Summer of Snail Mail

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I know I said I was going to go back to more food content but I wanted to write some more relationship advice. This summer has been a lot of writing relationship advice for the paper, but some things I just can’t apply there.

Writing has always been the way that I really process everything, so… here is my story. It’s got everything to do with relationships, writing, and reading (signs, the room, etc.) wrong.

I’ve split today’s post into two parts: advice and the story of my summer. Let’s begin with a primer:

context

This summer, I spent a lot of time writing letters. I wrote some to friends, both close and not too close, but there were three important ones.

The first one was of opening up – but the very last I received from them.

The second was a love confession, for the second time.

The third? I’m still awaiting its arrival in my mailbox, but I’m fairly certain it will be along the similar vein as the second.

Why am I including it? Because it ties in with the biggest lesson I learned about relationships this summer: love’s all about the timing.


my advice

This idea that love is dependent on timing? It sucks! I refer to it whenever I say “love is logistics” in any of my relationship advice columns (like long-distance relationships and dating opposite personalities).

But seriously. The key similarity in all of these scenarios is that they all were off with their timing. I’m not saying outright I would or wouldn’t have dated them if the timing was “right” – that’s not the point – but we as people depend far freaking too much on this arbitrary factor of timing.

What do I mean? Well, to state the obvious, you have to make sure the timing is right for these conversations, aka nothing too depressing or serious preceded the conversation. However, you should not be dependent on the natural flow of conversation to get you there.

more talk (and action)

If you’re friends with someone, you can’t assume the conversation will ever provide a good opportunity for relationships or anything of a romantic nature to be brought up until you bring it up. Whether this means priming the conversation straightforwardly (“I want to talk about our relationship” – bold, but also scary) or with dropping hints – especially since we are still in a pandemic and the in-person activities that might have generated these conversations are not reliable.

I’ll address the other side of this timing-related issue at the end, because you need just a bit of context. This is where snail mail enters the picture.


snail mail summer

Note: all names have been changed to maintain privacy to parties involved.

What I love (and hate) about snail mail is the pace. A few days sometimes feels sooooo agonizingly long, but at the same time texts, Snapchats, etc. sometimes feel too fast-paced. The expectation of a quick response, the meaning of the time in between responses, the mental circles we run around ourselves thinking of replies… makes me feel a bit dizzy, just thinking about it.

But there is something extremely exciting about finally seeing the precious letter in the mailbox, addressed just for you. It took time, money, and a whole lot of other resources just to get to you… there is nothing like that letter out there in the entire world just for you, not another copy and no one else’s eyes (probably) that read it, or will ever read it.

Snail mail in this day and age (especially with the attacks on the USPS by our federal government, but I digress..) is kind of laughed at. It is a bit extra, but it’s fun!

who doesn’t love a handwritten letter?

Anyway, in March I began writing letters to a good friend of mine, Logan, who had previously not really written that many letters. He was all on board after I sent him a letter though, and that was the start of our almost six months long correspondence.

His first few letters to me were written on note cards, which we shared a hearty laugh at, but eventually he got his hands on real paper. I soon found my highlight of the week to be rushing to the mailbox around 1:30, 2 PM on a weekday and finding a colorful envelope with my name scrawled on it.

We’ve been friends a while, and this correspondence brought us closer. To be honest, it was abundantly clear to both of us that we had mutual attraction to each other. Besides writing letters, we were messaging, scheduling times to video chat and generally talking all the time. I guess it’s my fault that I held out hope for something to happen but didn’t really act on it – I mean, doing something as old-fashioned as well as still talking daily? Sending packages at some points, even? I let my naivety of waiting for the first move to happen to me, rather than make something of it myself get the best of me… Yet you can only hold out on something for so long, you know? After pining all those months, hoping something would happen, it wore me down. For me, that window of hopefulness eventually passed.

Just a sampling of the letters Logan sent me

Everything came to a head at the end of July, when I mentioned going back into the dating sphere. After a long conversation, we decided it was best to have some space to let the feelings subside. If things were just a bit different, the timing was just a little different… who knows, was the question that loomed in the digital space between us.

The day after our conversation, I received a letter he had sent out the week before. It was ironic that he was finally opening up to me in that letter, for it was also the last one I ever received… But I still walk out to the mailbox to check if I have mail about 2 pm everyday, foolishly… just in case I should receive one more letter.


Kind of out of the blue some time after my fallout with Logan, I received a text from my friend Bryce, telling me to expect a letter from him in the coming days.

Slightly puzzled, I didn’t really expect much from it except some life updates, because we hadn’t caught up in the last month. I was certain it would be just that, and let it slip from my mind.

If you recall from my last post, I reviewed Yoonique tea bar and also admitted I was on a date. Well, Bryce didn’t really know I had returned to the dating sphere, and I remember telling him how it went afterward. Scoffing at myself now, I remember thinking how strange his reaction was to my detailing of the date.

love me some mail

The next day, his letter came in. Oh, I felt such a fool.

It took a bit of time, but we finally had our conversation about it. Just talking about it, I felt kind of guilty because it wasn’t the first time he was confessing to me. In my naivety, I assumed we were okay after the first confession…

He said himself that he was waiting for a good time to bring it up again, in the case my mind had changed, but that time “never came.” I admitted I couldn’t see myself dating him – we were such close friends plus the literal day before I decided to just see someone exclusively.

I’m not really sure how things will go in the future, but we decided to have some space.


The third letter, though I have yet to receive it, I have a hunch it will be relationship-related. My friend Michael, he was never one to say much being a shy type. We’ve talked off and on throughout the summer, and I’ll leave it at that. In essence, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to have another similar conversation.


closing remarks

I think everyone can agree that timing can make or break a moment. It’s really unfortunate that life just sucks for everyone across the board when it comes to this one aspect, but at the same time it’s kind of reassuring that we’re all going through the same bullshit. (Maybe that’s just me, though.)

hold them tight – or don’t

But if you think of timing in that way, that it’s just never going to be perfect, you have two ways of thinking of time now:

  1. Time is crazy, decision making is futile and that everything will almost always go wrong because timing always seems off.
  2. Because time is never guaranteed, you have to make the most of it.

I really hope you can switch from the first thinking to the second. Like I said in the beginning, you can’t simply hope something will turn the tone and topic of conversation to become a perfect moment.

Perfect moments for these things to happen are so few and far in between you’re better off waiting for lightening to strike you.

At the same time, remember there are also a billion other things in the works for you and that person. Who knows what could happen in the next week, next day, next hour? If not now or at least in the foreseeable future for these things to happen, what of the moments that could very much work in your favor seeming to fall through the cracks?

With the pandemic going on, so many people have passed from the virus in addition to all the other diseases, natural disasters, and unexpected accidents that happen on a daily basis, that this should be a wake up call to do more of what your heart is telling you. At the very least, being honest with yourself and the people you’re closest with should be first priority.

I kind of touched on this in my advice piece about going from casual to committed, but sometimes being outright with anything you want to say is the best action. If things don’t work out the way you were hoping, you still shouldn’t beat yourself up, because it’s freaking scary and difficult to speak from the heart.

All in all, if you’re planning on having a heart to heart with anyone, of course try to make the actual time work (day versus night, have enough time for the conversation, doesn’t conflict with anything, etc.) but you’re incredibly brave for choosing to make your moment of saying something.

If all else fails, try snail mail. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it can’t work for you.

you’ve got mail

I’ve gotta say, this was one of the tougher ones to write to date. Do you agree with my advice? Have you ever had a pen pal – and did they fall in love with you, or you with them? Did you get a summer romance despite being in the middle of a pandemic??

I want to know what your thoughts on this blog post are, good and bad. Comment below or Tweet at me! This one was super long, so I thank y’all for sticking it out all the way to the end. I appreciate y’all soo much!!

Have you eaten? If not, don’t forget to!

Em

I have sent a lot of letters this summer…

2 thoughts on “Lessons in Love: My Summer of Snail Mail

  1. I love snail mail! Unfortunately, my country (Malaysia) has halted international mail for the time being, so I’m disconnected from my pen pals in the US. Can’t wait for the mail to reopen. I enjoyed reading this post!

    Like

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