BY LYNELL GEORGE/VIA LA TIMES
“I timed out on Zoom almost as soon as we all started being “safer at home.” Extended video chats make me feel more, not less, distanced from the people who matter to me.
Maybe it’s the narrow bandwidth of home WiFi, the lag, the stumbling over folks’ words, the “I’m sorry!” “No-no-no, you first,” or the way a face sometimes freezes mid-thought, stretched into a detail that would be at home on a Dali canvas.
Also, I stare into screens too much — laptop, smartphone, e-reader. By day’s end, I crave IRL interaction, something I can touch, something that brings the people I love into the room in the ways I most recognize them.
On an “essential” bill-paying run to the post office, I masked up and held my breath planning on a quick “contactless” dash to the mail slots. Instead, I lingered, marveling at the line of customers waiting for help and embracing stacks of multicolored envelopes and packages.
It hit me: Letters! Care packages! This was how to bridge the distance and be an ally.
In my early 20s, I was a dedicated postal correspondent. When my friends departed L.A. for college and long-distance telephone calls were too expensive to consider, we fell back on letters. I built a stash of inexpensive colored envelopes and matching tablets. Later, I made my own stationery — busy collages and, eventually, ’zine-like Xeroxed pages personalized for each recipient.
I spent hours hunting for the right collection of images to add another layer to every story. I thrilled at the payoff: postmarks from New York, Prague, London, Chicago, San Francisco. Exotic stamps. Visitors almost daily….”
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