Long before there were Facebook friends and Blog Followers, there were pen friends. Remember them? We chose a name from the penpal section of the newspaper and wrote, in our best possible script, quaint , little words on paper and sent them across the oceans, by boat or plane, to people we had never met face to face ,and weren’t likely to. Sometimes, the letters criss-crossed the globe for a few months and ,sometimes, longer. My mother and her pen friend wrote to each other for about forty years. In a sense, they are still writing because, after her friend’s death, my mother continued, and continues, to write to her daughter.
I thought about my mother’s pen friend this morning when I picked a beautiful Iceberg rose and placed it in a much treasured, and much travelled, tiny, green glass jug. The jug was given to me, filled with violets, for my 23rd birthday. It was a gift from my mother’s pen friend on my first visit to her home in the Netherlands.
It never ceases to amaze me that a few small words, such as Dear Friend, can take us on such long journeys. From here to there and back again, over and over, and every which way, through time and space.
Questions: Will our internet friends last the distance? What is the distance? Will our internet life bring treasured memories? Will there be tangible outcomes from our word paths across the world? Upon what journeys are we sending our words when we press Publish?