When I was in fifth or sixth grade, we had the chance to get a pen pal or two.
I signed up.
Being somebody who enjoyed writing, I thought it was a match. I remember I had two addresses. One was in France, the other (I think) in Spain. I rushed home after school that day and wrote two letters. I got them all ready and my parents helped me mail them out that night.
I have no idea why that memory is so vivid to me, but it’s something I never forget.
Of the two letters, I never received a response. I know of a couple of other classmates who also didn’t get a response. Talk about a crappy feeling. This was before the technology boom, of course. So shooting somebody an e-mail and saying “Hey, what’s up? How about a response?” wasn’t going to happen.
Instead, it was disappointment.
Fast forward a few years. We’re in the midst of the technology boom, but I still like getting real mail. So I found a couple of pen pal sites. What the hell, I thought. Let’s give it a roll. I found somebody who sounded interesting. We actually exchanged a few e-mails at first. Then I got a letter. How cool was this? So I wrote a letter and sent a bit of a care package — some trinkets and things from my area.
Never heard back.
It seems this is normal with pen pals. I have read stories who have had lifelong friends through pen pals. They’ve written for years and met up many years later. Alas, I think those stories are a rarity, rather than the norm.
Call it glutton for punishment, but I’m still interested in a pen pal. It’s intriguing. It’s something different. It gives you a way to learn about somebody differently than most ways. No need for Facebook. No need for Twitter. Or blogs. Or e-mail.
A letter, some stamps and a physical address.
So I came across one of the subreddits on Reddit for pen pals. I read over many and found a couple of people who seem interesting. I reached out to them and I’m going to give it a go again. I even posted to the forum seeing who else was out there, using an idea I had somewhat seen before and then I tweaked.
This time, I’m doing it differently from the times before and doing it with this tweaked idea.
Basically, it’s a photo pen pal of sorts.
What I’m going to do is get a bunch of my photos printed. I have some over-sized index cards and I’m basically going to do a storyboard with the photos. Maybe one letter will feature geocaching photos. Or disc golf. Or my town. Or waterfalls. Or anything.
The idea is to give a glimpse into my world through photos and words.
I’ve always found letters can be hard to write. You can say who you are, what you do etc. You can discuss events and whatever else, but if there’s no graphic… well, sometimes it can be hard. Especially putting pen to paper. And with e-mail and so many other things these days, it’s easier to let people know about your life.
So I think it’s totally worth doing pen pals the old-fashioned way.
Who knows, this plan can still fall flat on the face. It could be just like in the past where one or two letters change hands and that’s it. Too, a couple letters could exchange and we could find it’s not the most compatible thing in the world and let it float away.
Or, maybe I can finally see what it’s like to have a pen pal and learn about them through the old art of writing.
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