On the middle finger of my right hand is a small lump, a callous right up by the first knuckle that used to be known as a writer’s bump, prominent and round, worn into my flesh by countless pens, yet, oddly, I have discovered that my hand is no longer familiar with writing.
The crux of this discovery lay in a love letter I wrote last night, (bittersweet black ink on treasured boutique paper, short yet hopefully sweet), when I found it curious how naturally I remembered my cursive, (how deplorable my style has become!), and my kerning, even as I marveled at how very long it took to manually scribe all the words. I have become more accustomed to tapping at keyboards, whipping down thoughts at 75 words per minute, and the gentle, profound flexibility of word processors that allow me to shift chunks of text up and down a page, than the slow, steady pace of scribbling with ink, although it used to be the activity I did most in a day. Still, I appreciated the process, even as I railed against the pace. It is comforting to fashion an object, to have made something more tangible than my usual twist of digital light.
I have, myself, a small untidy box of such things, collected from friends, ex-lovers, and one amazing, mysterious stranger, that I can never quite bring myself to throw away, no matter how irrelevant their messages have become. They are charmed things, each page representing a strangely intimate glimpse into a slice of past life, time that I would otherwise forget captured as solid state memory spun from stationery, as telling as the rings of the dead trees that made the paper pulp. Riffling through them exposes layers upon layers of emotional archeology, the rise and fall of small relationship empires, describing arcs of meaning all the way from the brief glory before an emotional disaster to someone’s gleaming desire inexpertly pinned to prose like a shoddy taxidermy specimen mounted on sagging cardboard, all broken clauses and imprisoned nouns trapped in a dirty laundry of terrible poetry and too many verbs.
So even if the practice feels antique, even as my hand cramps at the now unfamiliar act of proper writing, even as it consumes resources probably better left for others, I will defend the act forever. Love letters, even as a mad, sometimes callow contrivance of adulation, hypocorism, and art, are how I shall keep my heart.