The Joy Of Pen Pals

By Tess Berghoff

In the age of instant communication, there is something so beautiful about sitting down and hand-writing a letter to a loved one and receiving one back. Maybe it’s the hand writing which seems to say so much about a person. Or maybe it’s the physical aspect of opening an envelope and carefully unfolding the paper. Maybe it’s even more special because these letters aren’t just texts that fall into the abyss. Whatever it may be, writing letters is one of my favorite past times. 


Currently, I have three pen pals. The first is a good friend of mine I met while studying abroad in Ireland. She lives in Boston now and our letters are usually very long full of updates about school, stressors, and comic relief. My second pen pal is one of my dear friends from Santa Clara who travels all over the world. Throughout his stays in India over the summer to studying in El Salvador this quarter, we have kept up our diligent pen palling (not sure if that’s a verb, but I am making it one). I love opening his letters and reading about the various cities he’s been to and the people he meets. My last pen pal is my wonderful sister, Kayla, who lives in New York City. Our letter writing is rather recent and sparked because I ordered some new stationary online and it reminded me of her. It has a little rose at the top of the letter head and I instantly thought, “Oh Kayla will love this,” so I wrote her a note. I respond to them in different ways from long hand-written notes on binder paper to that cute stationary for Kayla, but each pen pal holds a special place in my heart. 


Keeping in touch with long-distance friends and family is tough due to the constant rush of life and days full of work and to do lists. Writing letters makes it easier to cultivate the relationships that aren’t right in front of you. I check my mail every day and receiving a letter feels like Christmas morning. Around 1 PM I am usually home for a quick lunch break. This is some great timing because that happens to be when the mail man stops by. I run out to the mail box and when I see my name on the envelope, my heart races. I can tell just by the handwriting which pen pal it’s from, and with each person, I get that same rush of joy knowing I get to read about their lives and miss them a little less. 


I cherish each correspondence and the envelopes stack up on my nightstand. Having a pen pal, or three, is something I lovingly value. My three pen pals span across the country and western hemisphere, but writing to them makes me feel like they are just a few miles away.