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A letter can change your life. As an English major and a high school English teacher, I can be prone to flights of literary fancy. I love the written word. I love books. I love writing. But this isn’t an exaggeration. A letter can change your life. It did for me.
I’m just going to tell you up-front: I am a very, very new Navy wife. In fact, I haven’t even been married for an entire year yet—John and I are still two months away from that milestone! But I’ve known John for almost ten years—first as friends in college marching band.
Two years after our college graduations, John and I had gone our separate ways. We had flirted off and one in college and had one (terrible) date, but nothing ever materialized. Not even a kiss. One May afternoon three years ago, I logged into Facebook after work and noticed John’s brother had posted his boot camp address. What the heck, I thought. I’ll send him a note.
I wrote a few sentences and sent it off, completely sure that that would be the end of it. And then – you probably have guessed already—a letter was waiting in my mailbox a few weeks later. It sounds ridiculous and over the top, but I fell in love with his writing. So I wrote him another letter.
And he wrote me back. Again.
We’ve never stopped writing.
After boot camp and A School, John was stationed just four hours away from me. We talked every night on the phone. And we still wrote letters.
After a year of dating, John popped the question and promptly shipped off to Afghanistan for a year. And for a year, I wrote him a letter every day. Some of them got to him on time; some ended up making it to Afghanistan six months after being sent. Some of them were sent in care packages; others were sent on solo missions. They all eventually made it to him. 363 letters.
And he wrote to me too. Each time I’d open a letter, I’d feel a little closer to John. After all, he was the last person to touch the letter before I did. I’d put my finger over his signature, I’d read his words and hear his voice.
Even after getting married, we still write letters to each other. It’s not at the same pace, but every so often, one of us will surprise the other with an envelope. Between the two of us, we probably have somewhere between 1,000-1,500 letters we’ve written each other.
When we tell “our story”, people inevitably comment on our letters. “Wow,” the overwhelming response is. “You guys actually wrote to each other? Really?”
I’m a tech junkie. I don’t spurn technology or progress. I don’t wish for a simpler time– I think now is pretty awesome as it is. But if our house burnt down tonight, I’d leave my laptop and my cell phone. I’d desperately try to save the six boxes of letters that are sitting in my closet. I’m not sure how I’d juggle them all, but I’d find a way.
Those letters document our life together—from an awkward, unexpected letter handed out by a drill sergeant to the letters written on Navy-issued paper to the letter I wrote John on our wedding day to the one he wrote me just a few weeks ago. Reading them reminds me of the things we’ve sacrificed and celebrated as a couple. It’s a very tangible record of how our lives intertwined so quickly.
In a world where it’s so easy to send communication quickly, take a minute to write a letter–even if you’re not mailing it and instead putting it in a lunch box or a sock drawer. Especially if you’re not mailing it. Enjoy the connection!
Jo is the author of Jo, My Gosh!, a blog about her journey as a newlywed military wife. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching. Catch her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and say hi!
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