When It Comes To Connection, One Group Finds The Pen Is Mightier Than The Text
On the first Sunday of each month, a little placeholder is put on several tables in the coffee shop at Wolverine Farm Letterpress & Publick House in Fort Collins.
It reads: "Table reserved for Letter Writing Club."
Spread out on the tables are stacks of funky postcards and pretty stationary, along with pens, envelopes and stamps. The goal is to encourage people to stop for a minute and get back to the art of hand-writing a letter - or to type one.
Melissa Cox, 16, is writing a letter to a friend who is off at college in Oregon.
"I'm sure she'll love it," Cox said. "I know she misses our friend group a ton, and so I think it will be special for her to receive something that's more than just a text message."
For Cox this is a bit about the novelty of the archaic machine, an antique typewriter, in front of her. But for her mom Carrie it's about the intimacy of writing a letter.
"The words matter, of course, but knowing that someone has actually touched that paper - I like that," Carrie said.
And without the convenience of a delete key, there's also a bit of a risk.
"Normally if I'm writing a letter, I write it on scratch paper first and then I can write it neatly in the cards," she said. "I took the chance this time to write it directly in the card. So I'm having to cross out a few things."
As she wrote a note of support to a cousin with breast cancer, Carrie said there's something about knowing that this letter - along with any typos - might be saved for posterity.
For friends Lindsay Brady and Carrie Levi, coming to the Letter Writing Club was an opportunity for them to connect with each other even though they both live in Fort Collins.
"I saw it on Facebook, and I indicated that I was interested," Brady said. "Carrie saw that, and then we decided to come together."
The paradox of using Facebook to find out about a letter writing club isn't lost on the two.
"We'll Facetime about it later," Brady joked.
Having a dedicated time and space to do something is about as rare as the act of writing letters itself, she said. And technology doesn't always help.
"If you already know what's going on with everyone in your life because you can click on it, it's less motivation than 100 years ago to write something long-hand," Brady said.
For Levi, writing letters has been a welcome distraction. Her newborn has been in the NICU for the past four months. On this day, she's writing a letter to her 4-year-old daughter.
"It says: 'Dear Olivia, I'm so proud of the smart and kind person you are. Mommy loves you to the moon and back, as deep as the ocean, as tall as the mountains, as big as the world. Love Mom.'"
Levi said she hopes her daughter will keep the letter, the same way that she kept letters when she was young.
"I have - probably if I could find it - a box of letters," she said, remembering the intricately folded notes passed back and forth in class.
Maybe a note from her mom will comfort Levi's daughter in the future, the way Carrie Cox said old letters and cards have helped her.
"I don't have any family here - except the family that I made," she said, "and so it helps me feel closer to them."