As I was signing my sister’s birthday card today, I couldn’t help but notice how sloppy my handwriting looked. “What happened?” I thought. My papers in school used to cover the classroom as examples of exemplary writing. Now, I wasn’t impressed.
I have never been one to get excited about computers. Technology scares me–the moment I try to do something by using the device that is supposed to make my life easier, I end up taking four days longer than I should’ve. And crying is normally involved. Therefore, I have no problem blaming my reliance on computers for the deterioration of my handwriting.
On any given day, I can count on the fact that I will type away on the computer, but I don’t always write. What saddens me most about this fact is that I feel like I am slowly losing a part of myself as the control of my handwriting slips away. Actually writing with a pen to the paper doesn’t seem as natural as it once did. The thought of writing this blog post instead of typing it causes my hand to hurt, yet, until my sophomore year in college when this method was no longer practical, I used to write all of my term papers, edit them, and then type as a final step–my papers were better that way. There was some sort of connection from my brain through the pen to the paper; that thinking connection helped me write. And now I’m losing that part of me from lack of use.
While I’m not normally a pack-rat, I have trouble throwing away cards from relatives. When I stare at their cards, I am looking at a part of them. Each person’s unique handwriting identifies him or her right away, and I instantly feel a warmth knowing I’m reading a card from my Nana who had a stroke, each round letter betraying this dignified woman, shouting that her hand was shaking the whole time she wrote. Yet she filled the bottom half of the card for me, anyway.
Or my mother. Neat and tidy, and full of thought, every letter exudes the care she takes in everything she does. Her family is never far from her thoughts, and the pen never far from the paper. Equally distinct is my father’s handwriting, a little messy, but definitely not careless. While most words will end in a joke, my father is not void of true emotion that he is willing to share, his words on the page not small and insecure but plain to see (albeit not always clear to see).
And then there are the small letters that cause my heart to flutter every time I rediscover them. Quiet and controlled, they represent the solid man that has blessed my life for almost ten years. The handwriting doesn’t shout at me, yet I’d recognize those words from a mile away.
Whether the card be from the slightly scattered-brained aunt with good intentions or my mother-in-law with a joyful heart, I can identify the author right away by the pattern of ink on the paper. I find comfort knowing that only a pen separated them from me, that I always have a part of them that is tangible, in front of me.
Many times I think of my children looking back on the writings from my blog. I hope they’ll see my heart and know that my life was for them and any frustrations were that I couldn’t be more. I want them to laugh and cry and experience a little of me through my writing, letting them in on any part of me they didn’t already know. Yet sometimes I feel like they won’t see all of me.
Looking at a sterile piece of typed paper, they won’t see the emotion in my letters or know that my hand directly crafted the words in front of them. They won’t see all of me, the scribbles and corrections, the quick-edits and new ideas that would be visible in a handwritten piece.
And so, as I type, I yearn a little to feel the pen in my hand, to get reacquainted. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not ready to lose that part of me, yet.