my correspondents

Considering the fact that I have no friends, I have an unlikely number of people I correspond with regularly. Pen pals, if you want to call them that.

Chief among these is a fellow writer who lives in a nearby, Midwestern state and who invited people reading his blog to send him an actual letter (on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp) and he would respond in kind. I was up for the challenge, and I think the first letter I sent him was nine handwritten pages. (The paper being the leftover sections of my grad school notebooks. You can see one of them — depleted — here. Scroll down.) He sent a multi-page letter back to me, and we’ve been exchanging long and short letters for years since. We also descend into mere postcards sometimes, generally when either of us is traveling.

My second long-term correspondent is a person I met when I was in a running club a few years ago. She was talking (around the rehydration table at a post-run establishment) about her upcoming trip to Belize. I asked her to send me a postcard while she was there. She didn’t, and we joke about it to this day — that the card must be lost in the mail and will still arrive. But after that, whenever she would travel, she would send me a card or two. And I would do the same. I get postcards from places like the Galapagos Islands; she gets them from places like Paducah, Kentucky.

A third correspondent is another writer who had a story published in the same magazine/issue as one of my stories. He looked me up on Facebook and we connected there. He invited people to send him postcards from museums they visited and he would do the same. We’ve been sending cards back and forth for about a year now, though I understand he has moved, and I don’t yet have his new address. (I don’t think he reads this humble blog either.)

A fourth correspondent is a surprising newcomer. One day I received a Facebook message from a name I didn’t recognize, asking if I was the same person as someone with my name who grew up in St. Louis. It turned out she was writing on behalf of her husband (who disdains Facebook) who was searching for his childhood buddy, who was me. I had lost touch with him not long after I moved to Kansas City (thirty-one years ago), and when I tried to find him in the phone book to get an address, I had no luck. (No phone books anymore either.) His parents went to the same church that my mother went to (before she moved to Paducah, Kentucky), so I got occasional updates from her about the parents but not about my lost friend. But then his wife found me. He and I exchanged email and snail mail addresses, and now he is sending me postcards like crazy. I received five from him last week, and it appears he was in Metropolis, Illinois the same weekend that I was literally just across the Ohio River in Paducah, Kentucky. I met up with him last winter when I was in St. Louis (overnight, delivering a couch to my son’s bare apartment). I would not have recognized him if I saw him on the street, but his voice was the same. And his handwriting in his postcards is the same as when he was a boy. (Mine, happily, is much improved, which I attribute to keeping a hand-written journal for nearly forty years.)

I’ve thought about signing up on one of those pen pal sites to begin corresponding with some random person somewhere in the world, but I don’t think I have the commitment for that kind of responsibility.

But the art of letter writing creeps along. I imagine us as coelacanths, living fossils. But I don’t mind. I like the mini adventure of visiting the mailbox each day with the hope of a personal card or letter waiting for me.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic


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4 Comments on “my correspondents”

  1. When I moved last year, I started writing letters to one of my previously nearby friends, mostly because I knew she would like it and write back. And she did! Also I’ve started keeping a minor nature observation journal.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    Indie – Beware of journaling. It can consume your life!

  3. If I’d known I could really send a postcard to you and read your comment while there I would have. How exciting to have these people to write to

  4. Libby Says:


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