The world of communications was a lot different seventeen years ago (and yes, that sentence does make me feel old). I had an email address, but only my fellow students also had email. I was allowed to send one fax a month to my dad from the university rector’s office. Telephone calls to the United States were very expensive. I would call my dad one month and call my mom the next. Letters sent by postal mail were my primary connection to family and friends back in the States.
I appreciate that I can now keep in touch with family and friends through email and Skype phone calls. Communication is quicker and more frequent and we can even see each other on video calls. At the same time, I miss letters. There is a special quality to the experience of receiving a letter that is lost with email and even telephone calls. Perhaps it is the tangibleness of the paper in my hands. Perhaps it is that letter-writing seems to make us think more carefully about what we write rather than dashing off a few lines in an email.
As I was packing up my belongs to put everything in storage for this stay in Lithuania, I found a box with mementos from my year in Kaunas in 1993-1994. In the box were all the letters that I sent to my dad at that time. He had saved them so that I would have a record of my experiences. I didn’t have time to sit and read through them. The movers were coming in two days and there was a lot to pack. But I look forward to reading them when I get back to Seattle. I’m curious about how my memories compare to what I said about the experiences at the time.