Burn 'Em?

I envy the youth of today.

Because they will never be confronted with six shoe boxes of childhood letters. I kid you not: in the boxes that my Mom shipped over from my childhood home, there was the most enormous collection of letters, cards and postcards (but mostly letters). From friends who moved away, friends who went to camp and even a German pen-pal named Karoline, who I never met. Karoline, are you out there somewhere?

And so the youth of today's boring correspondence about the guys that they like and the music they are listening to, will either just get deleted as cyber storage space becomes sparse or will be stored forever to trawl through.

Perhaps that might strike fear in some of their minds. But they shouldn't worry, as no one will want to read the texts and messages they have sent back and forth. This is the thing about letters from kids and teenagers: they are boring as hell. I have tried to go back and read the letters but I just can't, as there are too many and it is all too tedious. I have even found two letters where my friends listed out their high school course schedules for the semester. Riveting stuff.

Here's an excerpt from a randomly selected letter from a guy friend who lived in upstate New York:

Did you listen to the Spin Doctors yet? If not, that's O.K. I don't like them much anymore. Now I like the Soup Dragons.

The best part is the ending (they pretty much all end this way):

Now I'm all out of things to say so until the next letter.

I can't wait!

But here's the question: what do I do with them all? If you were one of my childhood friends who sent me these letters, and I have to admit, many of you still know me (at least via Facebook), what would you want me to do with them? What have you done with my letters? Are you curious to read them -- should I bundle them up and mail them to you?

I am thinking: burn, baby, burn.

In fact, it's made me think that I'd rather spend the time communicating with these people now, getting in touch again. Or if we're still in touch, I should be spending more time talking to you now in this moment, instead of reading your teenage musings. As Marie Kondo so wisely says in her book (my of-the-moment self-help bible): "The purpose of a letter is fulfilled the moment it is received. By now, the person who wrote it has long forgotten what he or she wrote and even the letter's very existence."

I've decided to go through the cards (and post cards) more thoroughly as those are more direct forms of communications, and usually are limited to one or two per year. Plus, you can't write 6 loose leaf pages of text on a birthday card (hopefully).

Lastly, if you have any of my letters, I am more than happy for you to burn them. I've got 13 childhood diaries as evidence of my underdeveloped view of the world. And that's mortifying enough.


  1. I like the quote!
    I suppose in the future it will be delete, baby, delete, as hoarders of e-letters who have saved every bit of correspondence will realise the same!

    1. That's the other thing. I still have the electronic clear out left... ugh.


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