I remember passing notes to my bestie in grade school and waiting with exhilaration for her return message. It was all great fun even though we were sitting just a few rows apart in the same classroom and would spend our entire recess engrossed in conversation about what fifth grade girls find most interesting – fifth grade boys.
But now, decades later, having traded that primary form of written correspondence for abbreviated, less intimate Facebook and Instagram posts and texts, I’ve discovered that personal notes can hold some of the same delightful anticipation and emotional satisfaction.
I’m a writer, so it seems rather obvious that writing would offer me a feeling of deeper personal expression, but I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy and look forward to the return message.
It all started two years ago, when a woman from Canada read one of my essays on Sixty and Me and sent me a message through my website. We began chatting via email and found we had much to talk about. So periodically, when she crosses my mind, I drop her a line, and I’m always happy to hear from her.
Over the past year, it’s happened several more times, the exact same way, and again a few months ago, and now only a day ago. Women I don’t know, who I probably will never meet in person, since we live in different states, countries and continents, are now part of my life through an occasional, but strikingly candid series of messages.
The second and even more delightful surprise is the depth of our intimacy through these communiques. We’ve learned about our lifestyles, our loves and losses, our worries, and how much we have in common as women navigating this era of our lives. It’s truly wonderful and has added a new dimension to my life, for which I am immensely grateful.
I don’t think I am unique, nor special, but I do think this happened because I am open to it and welcome the opportunity. So, I believe anyone who wishes to can begin a pen pal relationship that suits their lifestyle, interest and needs.
There are various Pen Pal Match Up sites online. Travel and Leisure published a list in March of 2020, some of which focus on special interests, like women travelers. I also found an online article on Martha Stewart’s site that offers links.
For those who enjoys taking a pen in hand, there is Snail Mail Pen Pals Ladies Only.
If you’d like to brighten the day of an elder person, there are several Facebook pages, like Pen Pals for Seniors, where people post their requests.
You might also consider being a pen pal to someone in your family. A friend of mine, who actually inspired this article, is pen pals with her nine-year-old granddaughter.
Even though they still talk on the phone, zoom and visit in person often, she says her granddaughter loves receiving actual written letters in the mail. My friend makes homemade cards, sends photos and writes special memories that will one day be this child’s tangible and lasting mementos of her grandmother’s love.
We are all eager, it seems, especially now, for a sense of purpose, connection and honest communication. Becoming a modern day pen pal has offered me all of that. I hope you will consider it as an opportunity to enrich your life as well.
Did you have a pen pal back when you were in school? What do you remember about them and the experience of corresponding? Have you considered looking for a pen pal? What would that correspondence look like?