I have one of those friends. You know. The friend with whom you make the pact of ‘should we not be married by 30, we will move to Vermont together and make and sell applesauce at the end of the driveway and be awesome spinster aunties.’ Ok, so this may be a mix of too many viewings of Baby Boom and a mutual love/fascination/obsession with Practical Magic (btw I am totally Aunt Franny) but it actually happened. Sadly we lost touch for a few years after my 4000 mile move to Alaska, and we both did end up tying the knot (both just squeaking through that 30 year cut off), but we’re back together – in a totally platonic life partner bff kinda way – and the texts are flying fast and furious. With a 4 hour time difference, a shop busy with customers all day, and 2 kiddos under the age of 3 on our collective plates, texting is the easiest. (And no one can overhear you bitch and whine from the next room).
We often send each other photos of what we are canning, processing, cooking or eating as we fancy ourselves to be super cool urban homestead hipster chicks (without any of the negative connotations of course). And one night after a glass or two of my favorite red vintage from a box, I decided that we were going to photograph our dinners each night to send along to the other. It has been a lot of fun, and I think both of us are not only upping our game (I informed the husband last week that we needed all new dinnerware because what we have just isn’t going to cut it for my plating aspirations and photographing anymore. You know, those black square plates I insisted on getting when we moved in together.) but getting some great ideas. It can be really hard to break out of that same 10 dinner rotation – There is absolutely nothing to cook! No recipes in the world!! – much like looking at your literally bursting closet and screaming you have nothing to wear.
I’m having fun with this little project. Not just because it’s an excuse to send more texts to my comrade Auntie Jet…well, maybe that’s the biggest part of it. And hey, if some publisher wants in on this, I bet we could get on board with that, too.
I feel like I’m about to come out of a closet. Wondering if my friends and family will still love me and think I’m the same person I was before…Here goes. I have penpals. I’ve always had penpals and I love writing (and receiving) handwritten letters. There, I said it. I own it! And I think it’s awesome.
I started writing to a girl named Carla in Albania when I was in middle school and we sent trinkets back and forth for years. I’ve written to people on cancer support lists (Olive has always been my favorite – an 87 year old cancer survivor and sassy amazing lady perfect for a teenage girl.), and have even gone to the internet to find pals (ironic, eh?). I have made some amazing friends and gotten to travel across the globe (Hi Carrie! Australia was awesome!) thanks to my ‘dorky’ hobby. I was even in a penpal’s wedding – we met for the first time when she picked me up at the airport 3 days before the Big Day! (The picture of Claire from England, her awesome sister Helen and I are still on my fridge.) I haven’t stayed in touch with everyone I ever wrote to, and you don’t always ‘click,’ but each connection is an amazing opportunity to meet someone the old fashioned way and to learn a little about them, their culture and the fun idiosyncrasies and unique way they view the world. You might even get some great recipes and book recommendations, or discover a hip new band along the way!
Interested in getting started? Check out penpalworld.com – a free site where you can make a profile and search through to find someone you might hit it off with! (Fun fact: I met both Claire and Carrie on the site within days of each other when I first moved to Alaska almost 9 years ago!) You can also check out the Letter Writers Alliance where they have all sorts of cool gadgets to mail and stickers and stamps to make your letters and envelopes stand out, and penpals for paid members (it’s $5 and totally worth it), and an up to date blog on cool mail happenings.
We are so interconnected with all of our gadgets these days that we forget how to actually interact and listen. How to ask questions and really tell someone about ourselves, and ask (and care!) about another person. So what do you say? Get out there. Make a friend. You (and your friend) will absolutely be the better for it.