Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Megabytes of Nostalgia (And a diatribe on handwriting)

There are times I come home and I open up my top left drawer and take a trip into the past. This is the drawer I keep my letters. Mostly the three-years of hand-written correspondence between me and my ex-girlfriend, including notes back and forth in our locker (we shared one for a bit…), notes left in each other’s notebooks that were left in the office (we shared one for a bit…), actual letters, and the packet of once-a-week letters she gave me to make it through our first summer apart. There are also a few notes sent back-and-forth in class (usually math and English) between me and my then-and-still best friend.

This is a memory trip that I sometimes don’t want to take. Sometimes it opens up wounds, either because of the harsh nature of the letters, or because of how spectacular the letters are, making me realize how happy I once was. (What a farce…) Sometimes I read these letters and just sit and smile and realize how much of a part of me these things are and how happy I am to have lived them. Whether a smile or a tear, this trip down Nostalgia Boulevard always ended with me on my bed with my teddy bear – either for better or worse.

Tonight, I took my first virtual tour of the old neighborhood in my brain: The inbox (and sent folder) from my email that lasted from sophomore year of high school until my college email account. This is the email account in which all but one month of an entire (2.5-year) relationship lived, stories of fights with parents, the decision to go to music school, failed school assignments, and parental-forced therapists live. It was a pretty bad time in my life for the most part. So why did I subject myself to this?

Well, I needed to find an email address of someone with whom I haven’t conversed in 3 years, but that doesn’t explain why I READ these old emails. Masochism? Perhaps a touch. Why do we ever do what we do, especially when there’s a more-than-real chance it will hurt us?

(STUPIDITY!) Thank you, generic heckler. I’m sure this is not the last time you will appear in my blog. (No problem. I’ll be here whenever you need me.)

But I digress. (What else is new.) Ok…it’s getting old.

There are a few emails I actually stopped and read, salutation to ‘signature’. A few I chose to read seemed, well, very random. For example: The email to my senior year French teacher asking her what to do about the bombed past tense quiz, for which I ACTUALLY studied. (I never had a problem failing something I deserved to fail. But when I put in the work, I expect the results.) Then there was the email to my junior year History teacher asking for a copy of a test so I could try and see if there was a pattern to the ones I got wrong.

And then, of course, there is the selection that made sense. The email to my best friend telling her about the first time I held my girlfriend’s hand. (Good Friday of 2002, on the T, going into Boston to see “ET”. I didn’t let go for 2 years, it seems.)The email in which my girlfriend confessed to me how nervous she was asking me out to her Junior Semi-Formal. The email I sent to the entire Junior Counselor core after Nat died. (Poor spelling, iffy grammar, but the heart that only a boy losing part of his innocence could convey. If my eyes weren’t still recovering from laser eye surgery, I probably would have cried reading that email.)

And then, of course, the ultra-painful emails, which I read painstakingly twice each…the emails the week before and the week after the breakup. It was an amicable breakup, really. I truly thought we could still be friends. (I guess I was na├»ve…) Yet for some reason, these emails didn’t make me sad or upset as their tangible counter-parts in my upper-left drawer usually do. Is it that the personality of handwriting is missing, or is it that email just seems less, well, real in some ways. It was a relationship that started with letters, and it re-started (fling) with letters, but it ended with emails…twice.

Email just doesn’t do it for me – or to me – when it comes to true emotion. Real tears cannot stain the virtual paper of electronic mail. Bad handwriting is forgivable – even endearing – while typos are just inexcusable. And crossed out words? They show process, but a cut-and-paste from Microsoft Word is…well…just so formal.

I’ve recently re-found my love of letter-writing. Turns out all you need is someone to write to. (There has to be a better sentence construction to that sentence. Comment if you think of it…) It’s so much better than email. I mean, complete sentences, punctuation…words with their full THREE letters instead of the shortened solo letter. (By the way – am I not worth the extra two keystrokes to address me as “you” instead of “u”?) And bad handwriting. Nothing makes me happier than looking down and seeing handwriting get worse as a letter goes on and the emotion runs through the author.

And yet, here I am, blogging…typing something in a medium that is sterile and dry. Wow am I a hypocrite…