It was wonderful to receive a letter back in the age of snail mail. I lived in a one-room apartment on the edge of the Hollywood Hills. In the evening after work, I’d unlock my mailbox and sort through the bills and adverts. On a good day, I’d get a letter from my mother, typed on her manual typewriter, the one with the small d and o filled in shadow, the same one I goofed around with as a child. The cool thing about paper letters is their high savoring ability. I’d wait for the perfect moment, make a cup of tea, get comfortable in my favorite spot next to the window, and slice the envelope open with a paring knife.
She’d bring me up to date on the family and include an occasional photo or newspaper clipping. As the price of long-distance phone calls dropped, the letters slowed and eventually stopped. Because someone thought enough about me to take the time and write, I couldn’t bring myself to throw the letters away. Back then, we didn’t know how well a letter would age or what it would be like years later to pull it from the same envelope licked closed by the sender. Or how aging a paper letter brings forth subtle organic notes, allowing it to be savored like a fine wine.