The Daily Northwestern

On a Budget: Snail mail

Old-fashioned letter writing never goes out of style.

Old-fashioned letter writing never goes out of style.

Martina Barrera-Hernandez/The Current

Martina Barrera-Hernandez/The Current

Old-fashioned letter writing never goes out of style.

Martina Barrera-Hernandez, Columnist

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Your phone buzzes and you sneak a quick glance at the screen illuminating the inside of your backpack during lecture — just another text from your study buddy: “Did you understand the lecture today in 290?” Uninterested, you slide your backpack down and continue taking notes.

A few hours later you crawl back to your dorm as slowly as possible, pretending that if you ignore your desk, you don’t have to do homework. On your way upstairs, you stop by your mailbox, not expecting to actually have anything to take back up to your room. Reaching in, you grab a thin, soft envelope and see your name printed on the front. You tear it open and smile at the oh-so-familiar handwriting.

Your cheeks flush as you read, warmed by the words wrapping around your body like towels straight from the dryer. Now try getting that feeling from a text message — impossible.

There is little I love more than receiving and sending letters. Call me old-fashioned or overly nostalgic, but there’s something in actual paper ‘n ink letters you can’t get from anything else. Make fun of me all you want, but I’m the girl who holds on to every single ticket stub (even from movies I didn’t like); I’m the girl who keeps all the letters she’s received during the past four years in a bursting, old shoebox. You’re probably going to deny that you like getting letters, but I find that hard to believe.

So maybe you do like getting letters but find it a pain to write one back. For me, half the fun of snail mail is responding to the mail I get! (P.S. If you don’t write back you’ll probably stop getting letters … ). Your response doesn’t need to be as elaborate or as heartfelt as a letter from Romeo to Juliet (remember Romeo had Shakespeare on his side!). Responding in and of itself shows care and effort. It doesn’t matter how messy your handwriting is or how seemingly unimportant your news feels.

Draw a picture, write a haiku or send a pretty pinecone you found walking back from class — any sign of life will do.

If you’re a dork like me, then you’ll want to decorate your letters a little bit (because those are the kind I like to get!) with doodles, stamps and as always, some glitter. (Can’t stop, won’t stop.) And finally, don’t even try to use cost as an excuse, but in case you do, here’s a breakdown:

Postage: 46 cents

Paper: 60 cents

Envelope: 24 cents

For a grand total of less than a dollar, you get a happy recipient, the taste of envelope glue in your mouth and the excitement of knowing that soon, there will be a little gem waiting for you in your mailbox.