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I’m going through my papers again and took out the manilla envelope that holds memories that wither and fade on paper that was made too many years ago. I’ve wanted to transcribe them all since last year, keep them safe, but there are always other things that come before. But soon, I’ll be back up at the Farm and I’d like to have them all printed and tucked into the house where they belong – so far from Florence – so I’m getting them back out and starting the process from where I last stopped.

My favorite letter is written on one piece of blue paper. In the corner, in my Nana’s cursive, she wrote Danbury N.H. and under it, Aug. 7, 1946. In three years, she’d graduate from college escorted by the man this letter is addressed to. I wish I knew more about what happened before she wrote it. There are only recounted stories from others in my family. I know some of what happened after, and much of what happened very long after that, seeing that I was lucky enough to grow up with these two beautiful people as they grew old together.

We don’t write letters anymore. Not like we used to – and our words are all trapped behind glass screens and typed into computers that take away the realness and won’t let many rediscover them. Unearthing moments in our personal histories, the whispers we wrote to each other when nothing was instant and when every word mattered. Our history is being lost in the mess of this digital time, and I wish that we wrote more letters and printed more pictures because if we can hold these things in our hands, there’s just something different that ignites within our hearts. The words are written by hand. They’re right there on the paper. In our loved-ones handwriting. Not some font designed by another, that’ll never show the emotions as the ink does.

My grandfather kept this letter – kept it in 1946 when he must have received it from the neighbor – because my Nana hadn’t even known the right house number. He had it still, tucked away somewhere three years later as he escorted her through her graduation. He held onto it as they got married, as they had children, as they moved houses and settled in Needham. A piece of paper, with words of the beginning of something magical that lasted over fifty years.

This blue piece of paper and the words on it open my world into theirs. I hear my grandmother’s voice as I read, but one that I rarely heard when she was my Nana, this woman on the other side of the pen is wilder than the woman I knew, and I wonder what happened between August 1946 and years later, when my grandfather would joke that he’d move up to the countryside (the same place that this letter was written from) permanently, without question, but Nana needed her “city life” too so they’d only be there for the weekends, vacations.

I’d see flashes of it, though, as this woman that was desperately fearful of mice and cats but would walk up to a horse and pet it’s nose like it was a puppy. Once when we were walking that same dirt road, we walked by a snake and she shooed it into the woods with her foot. I only wish I was older when she was younger. But at least I have her words. I only desperately wish I could also have the letter that my grandfather apparently wrote to her first.

Write letters to your loved ones. Keep them tucked away safe from harm. Our words are our stories. Our letters are chapters of love long past that we can open and read through again and again. The same piece of paper that she folded and tucked into an envelope at the Farm. The same envelope handed to my grandfather by the neighbor that lived at number six – or maybe the postman just knew it was a mistake and delivered it right to his door.

Dear John, 

I have purposely held off answering your letter because I am going home Sunday for a week. After giving the situation another thought tho’ I decided it would be wiser for me to hold up my end of the bargain before meeting you face to face. You have no complaints to hurl at me now.

Well it certainly was a surprise to receive your letter because I had long been resigned to the fact that you were all talk as far as writing was concerned. However, now you are a man of your word in my estimation! 

The thoughts of returning to Brighton for even a week are revolting but then, I have no say in the matter whatsoever. I gathered from your letter that Brighton is like a tomb. Where is everybody? It gave me great pleasure to learn that I contributed so much in the realm of society but I certainly don’t miss the society outside of a few and of course you are included among that few, chum. The rest I would just as soon not bother with namely – but I mustn’t be catty. 

Incidentally, what number Mapleton do you live? Six is merely a guess on my part and is most likely a wild one at that. Nevertheless, I hope that you receive this before I get home. At any rate, don’t study too hard and offer that little sacrifice to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Being the religious lad that you are it should be easy! 

It is high time that I let up a little now so until I see or hear from you again, 

So long (or would “love + kisses” be more impressive?) 

Joan

Today, I’ve frozen another memory into this new world of digital “permanence” by typing it out, and I’ll make copies of copies of copies for those that want it, but there will only be one faded blue piece of paper. <3