Hidden Letters and Time Traveling Notes

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

My mom gave me a box set of the Narnia books when I was in the 6th grade. She wrote a note next to the beginning of chapter one. Now distractions are pecking at my brain and all these holes are giving my thoughts and stories a little too much air. I’ve got nothing worthwhile and sensical to write about. And until I gather my thoughts back up, here’s a dose of nostalgia.

mom at a Florida beach
mom at a Florida beach

Have you ever come across a handwritten note from someone in your past? Did you cherish it or toss it in the nearest trash can? Do you usually keep things written to you so such a find is really no surprise? Instead of fiction, tell me about the nonfiction. With email can you imagine finding any more handwritten notes squirreled away in a book or box or drawer? When was the last time you wrote something with proper ink that someone else might hide away for the future? If you haven’t, might you think you should?

11 thoughts on “Hidden Letters and Time Traveling Notes

  1. A constant delight to me are such books as the one you picture, with inscriptions from parents or sister or nieces. As well birthday cards from relatives, former coworkers, students. One friend always enhances his book inscriptions with drawings, and indeed, in my room hangs his portrait of my dog prior to Sally, Molly. I use a fountain pen with regularity, loving them and brown ink, which somehow looks better on my hands than blue or black or even green ink. I don’t know why anyone would hide away for the future any specimen of my handwriting but there is always the hope someone might because of some idea or sentiment extended to them or a combination of idea and sentiment. Although I love my MacBook, first drafts of almost everything, including notes for class lectures, are written on lined pads or Moleskine notebooks. Handwritten things tend to stick with me, revealing themselves from time to time as reminders of closeness and friendship and intimacy. A handwritten thing makes me nearly want to whisper in front of it in respect. Printed things bring promotions and demotions, assignments and rejections or offers or inducements. Handwritten things bring wrenching tugs of awareness about how good it is to be alive and know people and be known by persons.

  2. Hey – it was your birthday? Hope you had a great day. I’m with Shelly – I write with ink pen, prefer longhand to typing first draft. Slowly slowly catchy monkey. Love the photo of your Mum.

  3. Shelly and Kate, I type so much these days, but handwritten things mean more. Thanks for the birthday wishes. The birthday is Tuesday and I’m sure it will be a good day. Thanks too for always coming by.

  4. Happy Birthday, Marta! Another year better.

    I love that first picture. I love books, text and handwriting. Sometimes when I write in my journal, not only to I get to enjoy the sensual pleasure of a good pen on smooth paper, but I enjoy the almost art of the handwriting. And I don’t have a lovely handwriting, but it doesn’t need to be lovely. There is so much more personality in handwriting than in type.

    I really want to do some paintings with handwriting. Actually, I’d also like to do some with antique book pages. It’s so funny, because I remember taking art in HS and the teacher giving us an assignment to put writing in the painting. I hated the idea and was loathe to do it. I think I compromised on some traffic signs with words in them, like “stop.”

    Now though I love text in art. I think it’s a question of growing up and discovering who you are, as well as all the possibilities in the world.

    As for letters, I recently wrote one, but I do not usually at all. I wonder why? What’s wrong with taking a moment to slow down and tell stories on paper?

  5. I’ve received three packages through snail mail from bloggers, women who I consider friends, who sent me little suprises. But I appreciated their notes, handwritten on cards, more than the gifts. There’s something wonderful about seeing a person’s handwriting and knowing they took the time to do that.

  6. That note from your Mom just wrecked me. Thanks for including it as well as the actual page it faces.

    Rarely, but every now and then, I inscribe a gift book for somebody. Whenever I buy a book for someone else, it’s for some particular (occasionally mysterious) reason, and if I want to be absolutely certain the recipient “gets it,” and will be reminded periodically, well, an inscription’s the way to go. More often I just let events take their course, trusting that at some point the recipient will wonder Hmm. Why THIS book? Why ME? (Maybe I trust too much.)

    One habit which makes no sense at all is my habit of hanging onto birthday (etc.) cards from other people. If I wanted, I could reach up from my desk right now and pull down from the shelf 7 years’ worth of greeting cards from my wife, my mother, sisters and brother, niece and nephews and stepkids, and the one childhood friend I’m still in regular touch with. Many of these cards have no note, just a closing and a signature; some have a word or phrase or two double-underlined; a handful include several sentences looking back, or looking ahead.

    But with all of them I can read the contents, chuckle if warranted, and then I let my eyes go out of focus. I can sometimes see the sender in a card store or supermarket, pulling the card off a shelf and grinning. And I can pretty much always imagine them sitting at a table or desk — or a post-office counter — writing something, even if just a signature. Those mental pictures mean a lot to me, and it’s their handwriting which does the trick.

    (A simple signature on a card says a lot more to me than a two-page end-of-year my-family’s-accomplishments email or mass-printed “newsletter.” But that’s just me.)

  7. Ditto! Happy Birthday wishes!!!

    In a white frame on my dresser is the very first love letter I ever received. It is a thing of beauty and makes me happy every time I read it.

    When i was in Switzerland last year, hiking in the Alps I came across a woman selling goods and trinkets out of her home. I stopped in and found some old post cards from the 1930s. They were her grandmothers–some she had written and some she had received. I bought two of them for about a dollar. I have one of them tucked inside a book, and though it is written in German I was able to translate it enough to see a happy woman writing a small note of her walk in a park. I love this postcard. I love that it is someone I never knew but now feel connected with. I love that it reminds me to enjoy and savor the simple things.

    I just sent off a handwritten letter yesterday. But I don’t do it enough!

  8. rowena, there are pictures with text running through them that I love, but when it comes to my own work…I was going to say I resist it and then I remembered I’m using my novel in my art these days. Ha. But anyway, sometimes I find words in a picture a bit overdone–like the artist is determined for me to come away with a meaningful message. But I love words when they really contribute to the work.

    MaryAnn! Good to hear from you. And hurray for snail mail. Yes, it is a good feeling to know someone took the time to send you something. Wish I sent more things to others…

    JES, I want to write in books but then I think–what if they have the book already or hate this author and need to return the thing to the store? My mother-in-law writes in every book she gives me–and as they are usually books about her religion, I usually fail to cherish what she writes inside.

    Also, JES, I’ve kept cards for years. Just a month ago I got rid of some-but it was hard. The clutter drives my husband crazy. Well, I still kept a few.

    Oh, a first love letter, D’Arcy. That is a wonder. And I like the story of the postcards. It is great that you can find value in other people’s notes and things.

  9. I like Libras.

    And I like sending and receiving handwritten notes. I recently sent a note to a neighbor who lives across the street from me. I was told by the recipient that my essence came through in my handwriting. I sure liked that response.

    A local shopkeeper had some items set aside for me, with a handwritten note attached to them. When I picked up the items and got the note, his handwriting and words surprised me. The content of the note wasn’t anything special, but the nice penmanship and the graceful lines of the writing made me consider the shopkeeper differently. I feel like I know him a tad bit better because I know his handwriting now and I know how my name looks when he writes it.

  10. I have kept some letters that I cherish. I often think about the dying art of letter writing, and I’m always wanting to write a “real” letter. But when I sit down to write it, I think “I’ve got nothing to say because I’ve already told her all that in e-mail!”

    I will make a point to write more handwritten notes to my son as he gets older.

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