30 July 2014

to write a letter

It is a funny thing to carry around a person, in your head and in your heart, whom you've never met.

Dear friend. I hope this finds you well. I've been thinking about. Yours Truly. 

And yet, it is the most real writing I have ever set out to do -- and done. Writing to a stranger that is. In the morning, when I rise, a quiet, steady author starts to type the words. The author asks how are you?, says, Today is rainy and I am...and there is the start of it. And oh, the starts of things! I've a million starts in my ever-cluttered brain -- and this, my pen pal knows. They, the words, tumble and trickle out -- in varying force -- throughout the day, the thoughts I might share with a friend who lives some thousand miles away. I sometimes feel like a vagabond with a bulbous knapsack of partially written letters and half-formed thoughts, a poem or two, a polaroid -- all squatting by the dozens like sea lions on the rocky cliffs and in the crags of my mind. 

(And this is the only way I can sometimes think to describe things -- drawing back to the sea -- and my pen pal, she knows this too. )

There is a stack of white paper, and of brown paper envelopes, and of Johnny Cash stamps, and ballpoint pens -- and a mounting annoyance with the Post Office for never having the floral stamps I want. There's a typewriter that sticks and needs oiling. It is dusty.

And things received. Postcards and notecards, thick stationery and thin notebook paper -- which, when scattered with your words, carry equal weight. There are trinkets, too -- a charm, a bright red skirt that hits my knees, a little deer figurine. These things hover in the daylight, and sometimes hide under other things, and are rediscovered again and again, and the words draw the finder back for seconds or thirds.

I feel we are the most kindred spirits. 

We, in this pen-paling, are writing a history -- that apart from the letters, would not otherwise exist. Willing something into being. A tale of two girls, and by them too. Characters ever-evolving, ever-changed -- and actually -- by life itself in all its madness and calmness, the lull of real life. We catch it -- in glorious, beautiful, innocent, narrow vision -- and scrawl it out. Fragmentary and winding. How we know when the other is distracted, or at peace -- not just by her words, but in their forms, focused and neat or lines that stretch on, become something entirely different by the time punctuation arrives.

Yes, we are writing a history. Or is it a future -- or the thought of one? I think it's both, and neither, and something in between. Or a reexamined present. As one who underperforms in the habit of journal-keeping, in writing to Sarah, I am infinitely more aware of the composition of my days. In writing, the days stand in my memory not like individual stars, but more like constellations. They take shape and have forms and are interconnected and they start to tell stories I didn't notice until I drew them out. And I am ever more aware of stories, thanks to you, friend.

And, having dropped your latest letter in the post box downtown, and walking home in the rain, I see a certain bird, on a telephone line, cawing and swaying, and the public bus that whirs and whose headlights glitter in the rain pools, and the bodies of the homeless hiding their faces from the rain, and an old man's cane that scrapes the watery grit of the sidewalk, and a dismayed honk in busy city traffic, and the woman in the raincoat who is fast to say, you first -- and all this, in the rain, in the faint light of dusk, reminds me and reminds me of the things we carry. And the most precious -- and freest -- is a story. 


  1. Beautiful, Bridget. You have a way with words that just captures something so simple and makes it so incredibly stunning. I have yet to find a pen pal that will appreciate the form of written letter as much as I do, but when I do, I will be sure to think of you and the way you are living your day in story!

  2. Beautiful! I love the way you write :) I could really relate to this part "In writing, the days stand in my memory not like individual stars, but more like constellations. They take shape and have forms and are interconnected and they start to tell stories I didn't notice until I drew them out. And I am ever more aware of stories, thanks to you, friend." Thank you for sharing!

  3. You are such a beautiful writer, makes me miss the days early in my first blog when I had a few pen pals. Makes me truly miss the written word amd the joy of seeing a letter with your name on it!

  4. Very lovely, sweet, simple writing. It's like it's part of a poetic novel.

  5. your words + photographs are the loveliest.

  6. Wow, this was breath-taking. Such a beautiful post with words that I hope I can write in the near future. I love reading writer's works and yours is just amazing.
    I miss the simplicity of writing a letter to someone. I never have a chance to do it because people are so use to texting and emailing. I remember back in high school my best friend and I use to send each other letters through our lockers. It was sort of rewarding getting a handwritten letter.
    I love your photography as well. I always wanted a typewriter!


  7. Awe that typewriter is so adorable! :)

  8. I met my husband through an ad I've posted on Instagram, I was searching for a vintage typewriter with hebrew keyboard..he had one at his parents house. This is something really precious to me, all that atmosphere around true letters and type writing machines.

    Olya from TLV Birdie Blog

  9. Gotta love typewriters <3 Love the photos and the writing!

  10. Beautiful. Wonderful photos and writing, so great!

  11. So wonderful to read, you've inspired me to reconnect with the deep soul secret love of my own writing.