Before there were blogs and emails and text messages, there were letters. Good old-fashioned paragraphs, often handwritten on custom stationery, exchanged between strangers with a common interest in the written word.
In junior high parlance, we were penpals. Only these pen friendships began with small ads in newspapers or magazines such as The Letter Exchange. My first “adult” penpal was a Japanese teacher named Tomoko that my parents found for me when they lived in Kobe. Twenty-five years later, she’s still at the same Wakayama address.
These letters from “LEX friends” were especially important to me during my years in remote Alaska. This was well before the Internet, when postal mail was everyone’s lifeline to the world at large. And my mailbox, like my days, was continually fortified with handwritten letters from people all over the U.S. and abroad.
One such friendship was with Judi, with whom I shared an interest in running. Judi stood out for seeming genuinely kind and for having beautiful penmanship. She even helped my uncle launch his private detective business by giving him some work.
Almost nine years ago, when I moved to San Diego, she welcomed me to her city, and last week, after 20 years, we finally met for lunch. We hadn’t heard from each other in years, but Judi took a chance I might still be around and found me through this blog.
It was a great meet-up, one that I have both today's Web and yesterday's written words to thank.