I hear the faint sound of a car door slamming. I take a deep breath and place my book face down carefully on the coffee table so as not to lose my page. I quickly dash over to the window for the fifth time that morning. Yes! I say to myself. Finally, it’s the postman.
“Hurry. Go,” I whisper to him willingly after he pops the mail in the box. It seems an eternity before he drives off and I make my way to the post box. I am tentative as I leaf through the letters. Two for mum, one for my brother, one to the householder but none for me. Sigh. It has been two long weeks since my beloved left for London and still no letter. But he promised he would write straight away! Surely it takes less than two weeks to get a letter from London to Sydney. Perhaps it got lost in transit; perhaps he forgot to send it and it is still in his bag; perhaps he is just too busy exploring and is too tired by the end of the day; perhaps he just hasn’t written and has fallen head over heels in love with a gorgeous blonde English girl. Two days after he left my side, these thoughts have been racing through my head every time I check the mail. These summer holidays are just becoming too hard to bear.
Oh, to be seventeen again… But the seventeen when I was seventeen not the seventeen of today.
The seventeen of today’s modern developed world will never know what it is like to pine for that long awaited letter from a friend, for those high school exam results, for photos from far away family. They will never experience the excitement, the angst, the sadness or the joy of news via a handwritten note on fine letter paper with matching envelope. There really is nothing like the heartwarming feeling of a handwritten love letter. And why? Because you know it’s that much more personal. You can keep it in the bottom of your drawer, forever. Or you can choose to say goodbye and burn it, with a match. Most messages today would be lost in some cyberworld of forgotten sad, desperate and happy utterings.
Technology has taken that away from them. And it is taken it away from me. And that is sad for all of us. I don’t even know what my friends’ and colleagues handwriting looks like these days! If there is no name on it, I have to ask “who wrote this?” That never happened when I was seventeen.
I thought email was a great way to keep in touch with people you probably wouldn’t have written letters to but Facebook makes it almost impossible to avoid anyone. Seventeen year olds don’t email, they just facebook each other. They skype, they facetime, they text. They text with two hands as fast or maybe even faster than we ever used keyboards and typewriters.
I text. I admit I love it; I was never a phone talker so it’s a blessing for me to be able to just say what I want to say. Facebook and I have a love/hate relationship and unless my friends are far away, we never facetime or skype. Even when they are, it’s email that does most of the talking.
By the end of this year, I will write at least two letters. Letters to friends I used to write letters to. And maybe a letter to someone whom I met more recently. I will not type them first; I will just pen them. If I make a mistake, I will cross it out and write over it. But firstly, I need to make sure I have their correct street address because even that these days is a rare occurrence. Who needs that if you have email, social media and smart phones to keep in touch?