Added: Sammie Wen - Date: 01.08.2021 20:09 - Views: 12662 - Clicks: 3010
In the pandemic, many have rediscovered the sheer pleasure of writing to strangers, with new schemes spreading hope and connection around the world. A few months ago, when the rules had been sufficiently relaxed to allow friends to sit together outside, Liz Maguire had coffee with a woman she had never met. The pair had already been communicating for months, and quickly fell into easy conversation.
As in the Liz Maguire? The Liz Maguire is a year-old American expat living in Dublin. Though undoubtedly a celebrity in her chosen field, she is not a professional, Rome women penpals that is simply because she is not paid to do what she loves, which is to write letters to strangers. She keeps track of their correspondence using a binder system sorted by month. She also collects historical letters, which she keeps in folders. Speaking to me over Zoom, she leans forward to reveal a tall white shelving unit groaning under their combined weight.
By mid-February, she had already sent Then, if I apply myself, my hand can get about five or six four-rs out. To write in that quantity, you need the right pen, Maguire explains. She prefers rollerballs cheap, less smudgingwhich bear the names of various corporate venues possibly related to her marketing day job. It is also a necessary one, given how hard it is to meet new people right now. Maguire and her pen pals share stories, thoughts, books, Post-it notes, stickers and poetry. The pandemic has been good for pen pals. Beforewritten correspondence was as good as dead; what the telephone had weakened, the internet finished off.
Yet a year on, the very thing that promised to broaden our world and nourish connection has left us feeling more isolated. My own feelings towards my phone have changed radically. WhatsApp is good for gossip, FaceTime for countering family alienation and Skype for when all else fails. is invaluable but there is something about the immediacy that crushes any thoughtfulness or intimacy. Letter-writing feels like a solution, though with little Rome women penpals do during lockdowns, there may have seemed little to write about.
But letters are good for us — humans thrive on activity and connectivity, and feel thwarted in the absence of those things. Letters offer a reprieve from the sameyness of lockdown, which made us simultaneously time rich and connection poor. During the pandemic, letters have become more than simply a means of connection; they are first-person s of history as it unfolds, says David Russell, an English literature professor at the University of Oxford. For my generation, writing to pen pals was part of growing up. I Rome women penpals ghosted by my first and only correspondent, possibly because I sent him a card covered with lipstick kisses.
I was eight. After that, I mostly wrote to my family. Separated for several reasons including divorcemy mother and I would write each other long letters. An artist, she would paint watercolour ducks on hers, and I would cry reading them, usually smudging the ducks. Mourning has been transformed by the pandemic, we all know that, but it still horrifies me to think of her death as a plot twist, a data point. She got sick when I was in labour and died 14 months later.
Time prepares you for death, but it does not soften the loss. I have learned that it gets harder as time goes on, and that isolation has a way of sharpening the pain. Put simply, stuck at home, there is no new way to express or explore it. On the days I feel sad, I have no one to talk to except my partner.
Grief is not something you proffer in a text. I tried posting something on Instagram, but as a medium for loss on that scale, I found it almost insulting. As one cousin said in his letter to me, to write on paper felt correct, and true. From the paper, to the stains and the handwriting, it is impossible to send an impersonal letter. My own letters started as thank yous in the weeks after the funeral. I would reply to texts late at night so as to prevent a back and forth, but on paper, words coiled out of me. Thank yous for the flowers. For the frozen meals.
For the cards. In the s, my mother spent several months in Assam meeting our Indian family and while she was there, wrote a series of letters to her mother.
These letters became a sort of journal, and in her dying months, she typed them up. After she died, I sent them to her family. Letters within letters. Writing was a way of converting my sadness into gratitude, of connecting with her lost life. For Najmeh Modarres, 37, letter-writing was an act of memorialisation prompted by an earlier health crisis. Inshe was working as a global health researcher based in Sierra Leone.
She had been due to return to the UK in the spring when news that Ebola, the virus that had gripped the west coast of Africa, was spiking again. Some foreign workers got out but, eager to help, Modarres found work as an Ebola research manager. Sierra Leone had been the hardest-hit countryand had already implemented several lockdowns.
Her friends and family thought she was crazy. Soon enough, the capital Freetown found itself in enforced isolation, its once-bustling streets now those of a ghost town. Afraid, isolated and disconnected from her family, Modarres began writing to strangers. These wooden dwellings were being replaced by large concrete developments, and Modarres wanted to document them before they disappeared. Cloistered in her rooms, she posted her pictures to Instagram and a Sierra Leone Facebook group, asking if anyone wanted to receive one and perhaps, she added tentatively, become a pen pal.
In the end, she sent out around 60 paintings. Replies came piecemeal, mainly from people who knew the country, or had visited.
One was an architecture student in Cambridge; another an anthropology professor from Soas University of London, whose research she admired. One, a volunteer with the Peace Corps whose handwritten letters from the s she had found on Flickr, she tracked down herself, never expecting a response.
Then, several months later, she heard back. Delighted, the pair struck up a correspondence. For Modarres, sending lockdown postcards became a tonic, a reprieve from the consuming anxiety of Ebola. She also liked to imagine the day voyage each postcard took, the plane journeys, how many hands each one Rome women penpals passed through.
Since then, pen-pal schemes have been set up at prisons, care homes and among cancer sufferers, primarily to tackle loneliness. By January, the of users had grown to 10, Say the first thing that comes into your head. Introduced by a friend who runs a charity called From Me To You that pairs pen pals with cancer sufferers, all Jill knows is that Sarah lives alone, by the sea, and has an aggressive form of cancer.
Instead, their letters take a gentler shape. They share an exercise book, which they take turns to write in, posting the book back and forth rather than writing paper. Jill writes because she believes family support was key to her survival after having cancer five years ago.
Modarres started writing again last March. Now living in Edinburgh, where she has been home-schooling two small children, she tends to send her letters to family and friends. Life and style. Photograph: Rafal Kostrzewa. Morwenna Ferrier. Tue 23 Mar From me, with love: the lost art of letter writing.
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