All posts tagged: Letters

Letters from parents TueNight

Family Archivist: Why I’m the Only One Who Still Writes Letters

I come from one of those annoyingly functional intact families that make it hard for me to sell my memoir to publishers. Of course, the rosy vision I have of my family relations is helped by the fact that I live, by choice, three thousand miles away from them in the Bay Area, and have for 20 years. It’s easier to idolize my parents and siblings (and vice versa) when we’re not rubbing right up against each other every day. Even if the cross-country move was entirely my doing, once I became a parent the fact that I was the outer moon to their cozy hometown Family Planet became harder to bear. When Mom and Dad wanted to see my brother’s and sister’s kids perform in a school music showcase or volleyball game, it required a drive that ranged from five to thirty-five minutes (depending on the snow). To see my kids perform, it requires advanced airline reservations, a transfer in Chicago, and three days for them to get over jet lag. Seeing Grandma and …

Letters TueNight Margit Detweiler

People Used to Write Letters! And I Have a Box to Prove It

(Photo: Courtesy Margit Detweiler/TueNight) I have a green box. It is filled with dusty old letters, organized by names and folders. Ex beaus. Lost friends. Professors who kept in touch with me after college. Grandparents. I haven’t looked at this box in probably 20 years. I mean, I’ve seen it sitting way back in my closet, every time I shuffle shoes around. I’ve used it as a sticker repository it over the years (Black Flag! AOL! Obama! Biden ’08!). And it remains. I know it’s there. But I never open it. Too much old emotional artifact bound to swallow hours of my life. Who has time? For some reason, this year, I went excavating. I dared to have a peek. Inspired, perhaps, by my parents who have been downsizing and doling out old letters, photos, diaries, books, and matchbook collections to us kids. While going through that old stuff you unearth buried treasures, and, of course, a few rusty nails. I’d imagine my own shoeboxes of unorganized, dog-eared letters disintegrating, and that over a century …

Letters TueNight Amy Barr

Note Never Sent: To the Mother Whose Son Assaulted Mine

(Photo: Courtesy Amy Barr) On a rainy Friday night not so long ago, my son Nick was assaulted by a fellow student in a bar near the college they both attended. They were strangers at the time. It seems that in a drunken state, the young man mistook Nick for someone else, someone who triggered an outburst of violence. The incident lasted about three seconds. No words were exchanged and only one punch was thrown, but it was enough to put my son in the hospital with a concussion and a broken eye socket. That weekend was awful. Nick looked terrible and felt worse. But just as disturbing as the worry and pain associated with the assault were the events that followed, which sent our family reeling. We were profoundly disappointed by the school’s disciplinary process, which let the assailant off the hook and left Nick feeling victimized all over again. It also taught us some harsh lessons about justice. As for me, I went from feeling anxious to being outraged, not only at the …

TueNight letter Jennifer Bensko Ha

A Friendship Kept Alive Through Letters

(Photo: Courtesy Jennifer Ha) The first time I saw Jim, I immediately noticed his height. He was so tall that his head cleared the dark, dusty cabinets in the Schermerhorn building. Bright blue eyes, and long limbs, he had been an elite fencer and he moved quickly and energetically. We were both in a beginning Finnish class at Columbia in the mid ’80s. It was a morning class, and the five of us in it would wait outside with our to-go coffees and make small talk. After class, Jim and I walked to our dorms together, becoming friends slowly, but I really got to know him when he began writing me notes. He’d leave them under my door, or send them through campus mail. “Do you want to study later? Go for a walk? Get coffee?” Back then, there really was no other way to reach someone other than by phone or by note. No Internet, no cell phones, no email, no social media. Telephones were wall mounted in hallways, so privacy was limited. Sometimes I’d miss him, sometimes …

Margit’s Note: Dear So-and-So

Dear You, Have we officially tossed “Dear” out the window? Nope. The last email I received that began with “Dear Margit” was today at 6:05am in my spam folder from “Swimsuits for All.” “Dear” has become a false sense of personalization and almost always a sales-y plea of some sort whether political, philanthropic or you’re missing out on some amazing swimsuit deal. Dear is no longer the necessary way to start a missive. Our abbreviated, abrupt electronic-mails are a far cry from the days of three-paged, ball-point stained beauties. They are their own form of communication. As tech reporter Farhad Manjoo once noted, “An email is both a letter and an instant message.” But not all of us have given up the hard copies. This week we explore letters in all their lick-and-stamp glory: Nancy Davis Kho is the only person in her family to write them. Amy Barr stopped herself from sending one. Jennifer Ha has kept a friendship alive through them. Kate Premo teaches how to write a proper thank-you. And I unearth a 25-year …