I used to write letters,
I used to sign my name.
-Arcade Fire lyrics
When was the last time you received a hand-written letter?
Other than birthday cards as a kid, my freshman year at college was when letters mattered the most.
It was part of the daily routine, the last detail of the day after dinner, the casual walk to the mailboxes on the opposite end of campus.
Turn the key in the lock.
Every once in a while there would be a stamped message from a friend or family member.
Cigars were introduced into my life around the same time.
They were a rebellious gesture back when smoking was allowed on university grounds without risk of disciplinary action.
My brother, roommate, and I would read letters and smoke stogies and catch nasty looks from fellow collegiates.
I used to write letters.
I poured my heart out in one addressed to my ex-girlfriend in reply to one she had sent me.
Fortunately, I left it out on my desk back in my dorm room while I went to the gym.
When I returned an hour later,
it was gone.
I couldn't find it, so I asked my roommate if he had seen it.
He was casually flipping through a magazine
and nonchalantly advised me that he had found the letter,
read the letter,
and then threw it out.
"It's trash. I couldn't let you send it. You'll thank me later."
I happened to run into the ex-girlfriend last summer and we had a long conversation.
Soon after, I wrote my old roommate an email.
It was a modern-day thank you.
We're still good friends.