I did it for love. But primarily, I did it for snacks.
I was a love-letter ghostwriter this past summer, penning pages to a coworker’s boyfriend over the course of 10 weeks. I was working at a secluded sleepaway camp in the Adirondacks — a cell phone, internet and peanut-free zone nestled in the mountains of upstate New York. There, I met “Rebecca,” whose name I have changed for reasons that will soon become apparent. Rebecca had started seeing a guy at the beginning of the summer. We’ll call him “Mason.”
I wrote a lot of letters that summer. To friends. Family. Three-fourths of the South Florida State Penitentiary population. I tried to send a letter or postcard every day. One night, Rebecca spotted my very particular cursive script and grabbed my hand.
“Write one for me!” she said.
“Like, to you, yeah I can —”
“No! For me! To Mason,” she responded.
I’ll pause right here for anyone in the process of hoisting up their khakis and limbering up for a sprint to Honor Committee. First of all, narc. Second, let me explain our terms of exchange. Rebecca’s mom had sent her packages of snack foods from her home country of Australia and, in exchange for my letter writing services, Rebecca would reward me with a portion of her snack haul. For all you who have never experienced the sheer ecstasy of eating half a sleeve of Tim Tam chocolate biscuits alone in the dark woods behind your staff break room, let me tell you — I would hand off my own mother’s retirement savings to Bernie Madoff for a sweet hit of those Aussie delights. These are snacks conceived of the same great nation that gave us Russell Crowe, Uggs and YouTube videos of dudes punching kangaroos. Long story short, that’s an offer you can’t refuse.
To begin, Rebecca would dictate as I transcribed and edited in distinct cursive.
“Your handwriting is as beautiful as you are,” Mason responded to the first letter. Little did he know.
As the summer progressed, however, Rebecca gave me more creative agency over the letters. She would submit a few relationship Sparknotes and a deadline. Then I’d get to work.
You can pretty easily freestyle a love letter to just about anyone. Throw in a couple “I miss you’s” and some personalized commentary on how person X makes you feel. Generally, try to imagine that you’re writing to someone who you, yourself, love. If your heart is so cold and gnarled that you love no person or thing, I dunno, write it to yourself, you raging narcissist. Content shouldn’t vary drastically whether you’re writing to your lover or Danny Devito; although, ideally, they would be one and the same. Everyone wants the same validation. Everyone wants to know that even just one person is thinking of them. Everyone wants tangible evidence that somebody sees them the same way every aunt ever sees a sale at Burlington Coat Factory.
So here’s your mission, Kim Possible. Take five. Set your work aside and write someone a letter. It doesn’t have to be a love letter. Write one to your sister or granddad or a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. It’ll make their day. It’ll make yours.
Finally, please do direct all letter-writing solicitations my way. Funds are low, guys. Going rate for life-affirming affection is half a kabob platter. Professing undying love will cost you a Roots bowl.*
*Endearing wit sold separately.