16 May 2011

Post 382: The George Carlin Letters

The George Carlin Letters: The Permanent Courtship of Sally Wade by Sally Wade. ISBN: 9781451607765.

I don't think it's really necessary for me to link to a review on this one, because it's pretty obvious what it is. Either you're going to want to read it, or you're not.

Portions of this book are absolutely mind bogglingly saccharine and weird. But they are also touching and relatable, because relationships are somewhat saccharine and weird. I have yet to have a relationship in which bizarre pet names and in jokes weren't a thing. Maybe Danny and I don't call each other the Jupiter Twins and insist that our dog "talks" to us, but we do have our own pet names that are equally weird when viewed from outside of the relationship. We fight in a very specific way. We communicate in a variety of different formats, and each of them has its own language and tone.

Earlier in our separation we started writing letters to each other. It probably sounds strange in our ultra-connected world to bother with the energy and slowness involved in hand writing and mailing a letter. But there are things that don't translate well in any other format. For instance, if I wanted to include a doodle in an email it would be a big huge production. I'd have to find or make an image, save it in the appropriate file format, and then I wouldn't even have control of how it would appear alongside the text.

But there's more to letter writing than how it appears. It says more about how you feel about someone than an email or a phone call. Those are all very effortless means of communication. There is little to no work involved in the delivery or the composition of the message. Few people even pause to correct their spelling or grammar when writing emails to their friends, but as one of my favorite bloggers stated over Twitter, "Using correct grammar shows readers you care that they understand what you are writing. It's exhibiting politeness with language."

But it's not only politeness, it's also a sign of care. I care enough about what you think to try and have grammatically correct blog posts. I do not always succeed, some things get past me and my editor, but I value you enough as a reader and this is one way to show my care regarding our tentative relationship. In the same way, handwriting letters to my fiance is a sign that I care about him. It is a romantic gesture in a world where many people break up through text message.

It is also a means of at least having some physical piece of me with him and vice versa. It is not holding my hand through a movie, or kissing me good night, or giving me a long, much needed hug on a bad day, but there is comfort in seeing familiar hand writing. There is solace in feeling the dryness of the paper and the indentations where the pen has pressed. And there is joy in knowing that fifteen or so minutes were taken out of his day to write a few thoughts down and then a few more to find an envelope and stamp. In this way I feel I am spending time with him in a way that is more involved even than talking to him on the phone for an hour. A relationship should have these moments of effort, whether I am 200 miles away or 800 or 20 feet.

LibsNote: Library copy.

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