I’ve called this blog Letters Home to You because I plan to write in a style reminiscent of one of my favourite activities: letter-writing. Some will read like letters to Mom, some like letters to one or both of my brothers, some will be letters to my dear friends T, M, M, F, R, or D, all of whom live one hell of a long way away from where I do now.
This is the loneliness of the long-distance expat. Having left behind my home province of British Columbia, Canada 17 ago, I’ve lived for longer periods in Quebec, Hong Kong, and now Hamburg, Germany. At each stop along the way, life developed, friendships grew, some have stayed, some withered away. But those who have stayed with me, will always be with me. I think that’s because they grew in a time when communication near or far took place the old-fashioned way: telephone, face-to-face or pen to paper.
But we now live in an age where very few people write by hand anything more poetic or noteworthy than a shopping list. We write text messages in crypto-shorthand, bursts on an email text line, one-word answers to complicated questions, rapidity and accessibility replacing contemplation, reflection, time for thoughts to ripen and from that, ink to flow. I realise I can’t turn back the clock. The task of taking out sheets of paper, writing a letter in longhand, filling out the address, fishing stamps out of a drawer for a combination to make one euro and 70 cents to Hong Kong, the US or Canada which the German post office can’t seem to stock so I’m always scrounging around for an extra 10-cent stamp somewhere… affixing stamps to envelope, remembering to leave letter by the door, head out to find the post box… It has taken on the scale, planning and execution of an art project, with similar results: stunned silence. Who writes letters any more?
I do. If I haven’t written in a while, now’s the time to catch up.
© 2007 lettershometoyou