Greetings, reader. I suspect that you, like me, may be well and truly inundated with suggestions of things to do during quarantine. However, if I may be so bold, I would like to give you one more idea of how you might be able to spend any extra free time that you might have once classes at Mills wrap up for the semester: start writing and sending letters.
Many students are already physically separated from our friends from Mills and from elsewhere, and even more of us will be apart from one another in the coming weeks once the term ends and more students leave campus. Of course, texting, phone calls, and video chats are likely at your fingertips to help you connect with your squad, but letters offer several unique advantages as a way to get in touch.
With no screens required, letter-writing can offer a welcome respite from the eyestrain of digital communication—and it’ll give you something to bring up in your next discussion with that irritating old relative who claims that texting is the only way you kids know how to communicate anymore. The wait to receive an anticipated letter, or to hear from a loved one that they’ve received your missive, offers you something to look forward to and to make the days pass more quickly. Plus, checking the mail gives you an excuse and/or reminder to occasionally leave your place of residence for a breath of air. And any stamps you buy for your letters will offer some much-needed financial support to the United States Postal Service!
If you’re in a romantic relationship that is or will soon become long-distance, you might consider getting some practice in the intimate and timeless art of the love letter. Look up the work of historic lovers like Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, or Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky for inspiration (or just because they make for a deeply touching and illuminating read). WikiHow also has some helpful articles on the subject.
Whether you’re writing to a friend or a significant other, you can take advantage of physical mail to enclose some small, lightweight tokens in your missive. Examples might include pressed flowers, hard candies, stickers, tea, seeds for them to plant, a CD of songs you think they’d like…
Using the postal service also offers some opportunities to get creative. For instance, some of my Mills friends are taking advantage of the old-fashioned vibe of letter-writing to organize a game in which we’ll write to each other as different characters from the Victorian era (the 1870s, specifically, albeit with a few supernatural alterations to historical canon). Those involved are already diving into research, worldbuilding and character design, and it’s been a welcome source of excitement and distraction for us all. If you’d be interested in something similar, but would rather put in a little less effort beforehand, there are a variety of roleplaying games you can invest in (examples: De Profundis, By the General’s Hand or Callisto).
If you’d like an opportunity to connect at a distance with someone outside of your social circle, you can avail yourself of any of a variety of penpal services, although many of these are going digital during the pandemic. For instance, writeaprisoner.com gives you the opportunity to exchange messages with an incarcerated person, and the Adopt a Senior program at reachoutamerica.com can help you find a senior citizen to send letters to.
Whoever you may choose to send letters to—or even if you decide to stick with more tried-and-true methods of communication, like carrier pigeons or messages in a bottle—I wish all readers of the Campanil the best of luck in finding some much-needed human connection in the coming months.