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Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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Filtering by Tag: Love

#Handsmitten: Who Will Be Your Darling Valentine?

Carly Butler

BY CARLY BUTLER

Seventy-one years ago, these two lovebirds — my maternal grandparents — were celebrating the month of love and St. Valentine himself. After getting married just after WWII, my grandfather and the rest of the Canadian soldiers were sent home to Canada, leaving the 40,000 British warbrides to patiently await passage to their new life, new country, and new love. This letter is one of 110 that changed the course of my life and sent me on my own quest of love. 

Handwriting is often pegged for its romantic appeal. There's no denying the heart-tug of a handwritten letter. It contains an untouchable spark between two people that emojis simply cannot express — even though they are getting closer to our core feelings (how about that new happy drooling face, amirite?). In the spirit of love, we're getting sappy and happy with the hashtag #handsmitten. Starting right now, we want to hear all about the loves of your lives: the past, the (im)perfect, the messy, and the meaningful. Send us your handmade valentines, little notes of love, letters you've latched onto for years, or heirlooms that celebrate the communications of the heart. Don't be stupid in love; be cupid in love. #handsmitten

You can send them to carly@handwrittenwork.com, or simply tag us on social media @handwrittenwork, and did we mention? Bring your hashtag game: #HANDSMITTEN 

One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” - Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Sweetly Unadorned Bits of Proof • Lexi Wangler

Brett Rawson

BY LEXI WANGLER

“What are you writing?”

Sadie, my best friend’s fifteen-year-old sister, paused on the porch. On her way to the hair salon, she surveyed me over her sunglasses, the bridge slipping down her nose. 

“The ceremony,” I told her, and ripped another page out of my notebook. 

“Oh, God.”  Underneath the layers of heavy-handed wedding makeup, she paled in horror. “I’ll, uh, let you finish then.” 

I could have called after her, defended myself and explained to her the nonlinear experience of expectation, the impossibly rapid speed of time devoured by just existing, let alone creative expression. But with forty-five, no, forty-four minutes to go, I just decided to keep writing. 

lexi.jpg

Last September, my best friend asked me to officiate his wedding. He’s been my best friend for going on seven years now, and at first, I thought it was a sop for not asking me to be his best (wo)man. I remember asking him, clearly, repeatedly, “Are you sure?”

But he and his fiancée were. They didn’t find it surprising when the wheels of my plane touched down in the city I used to call home without a single ceremonial word written. Well, to be fair, I filled out the paperwork, joined the American Ministers of Marriage, and mailed the affidavit to the court house. I took a risk and didn’t buy the officiating kit with an embossed certificate, but I did buy a dress — floor-length, fire-engine red with mesh cut-outs. That’s as far as I went until about forty-eight hours before the ceremony. Between cocktails at the rehearsal dinner, I typed out the first half of the ceremony on my phone, riding that familiar edge between writerly hubris and an absolute terror of failure. This was before I realized I probably shouldn’t be reading from an iPhone screen at the wedding. 

I borrowed a bit from the Corinthians, and a little from a speech that Roxane Gay gave at St. Louis University about Catholicism and feminism — ironically, since the happy couple asked me, the atheist, the fallen Catholic with a vengeance, to presumably perform a secular ceremony at a refurbished airport decimated during Hurricane Katrina.

The word “millennial” gets tossed around a lot to describe our generation, commonly linked with, jeopardy-style, “What is the worst?” Sometimes our elders have problems processing how we can ever mature, how we can contribute, how we can function, having been raised not only attached to increasingly smaller screens, but in a world that keeps getting increasingly darker: politically, environmentally, globally. The answer, of course, is hope. By coming here today, you have shown incredibly deep reservoirs of hope, in each other and in the joint future you began to build the day you met. You show the world the difference between growing up, and growing older. 

*

Before and after the wedding, I explained several times that no, I do not do this all the time, that I am not a minister, but simply a girl who happens to be friends with the groom, a friend who has been known to occasionally write things down. 

*

“Love suffers long and is kind. It is not proud. It bears all things, believes all things. Hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. [After all else], these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians, 13:4) 

*

I’m told it’s a rising trend nowadays, having a friend do for free what you used to have to pay a churchman to do. For a millennial couple with no particular religious leanings, it was a cost-effective choice, though vastly more personal and intimate. In the South, however, it still raised a couple of eyebrows. Despite mandatory compliments and platitudes from attendants following the ceremony, I wasn’t actually sure how it went. I cried through most of it, the maid of honor patiently passing me tissue after tissue. I only cry when I’m happy — weddings and other moments of intense joy are something of an emotional minefield for me. More so when you watch friend after friend find what looks like incalculable joy in the arms of someone new, someone you haven’t grown up with, but someone you nevertheless would like to know.  It’s a joy tinged with fear, envy, sadness, wondering, sure, but it’s still the kind of joy that leaks out of you. 

*

You met by chance. You fell in love by chance. You are here today because you are making a choice. You have chosen hope. You have chosen faith. You have chosen each other. By being here, you promise to both provide the best version of yourself and to also accept nothing less than the best version of each other. These promises are ones you intend to keep. You vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, to find happiness in the other. Each vow shares the same, simple premise; you promise to experience, to share, to be there. You promise.

*

There is more, of course. I opted at the end for “You may now seal your vows with a kiss,” as opposed to “You may now kiss the bride,” and I switched out “I now pronounce you man and wife,” for “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” fervent little feminist that I am. They wrote their own vows, sweetly unadorned bits of proof. But these are not mine to share. Writing down my speech for the ceremony, my hand cramped over the teeth of the pages that have been torn out of my notebook. At the reception, Sam asked for them to keep.  He showed me Meghan’s vows in his pocket, lettered neatly, firmly on a notecard like the lawyer she is, and his own, scrawled on notepaper with the letterhead from the hotel that morning, a list of things he promises never to do, followed by a list of promises he’ll always try to keep.  

He wanted the three of them together, maybe to frame, or maybe just to hold onto. In this moment, I am glad to have something tangible, firmer than memory, to give them. Something handwritten.

Lexi Wangler holds an MFA from The New School in Fiction, soon to be joined by a dual concentration in Writing for Children. She works as an assistant at a literary agency and has so many books she has begun stacking them in her kitchen.

Some People Live a Whole Lifetime, and They Never Learn to Love the Rain • Adrienne Pieroth

Brett Rawson

letter4 copy.jpg

BY ADRIENNE PIEROTH

I received this letter towards the end of my freshman year in college. I was away from my hometown of Denver, Colorado, attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. It had been a year of adjustments for me — some good, some challenging — like most 18 year-olds spending their first long period of time away from home. My mother had always been the center of my life, the touchstone I would return to over and over again for comfort, love, a hug, a laugh, or a cup of tea and a much-needed chat. My mother was British and had me late in life the at 39 years old.

Perhaps it was her older, wiser years that made her such a solid and grounded figure in my life. If you asked me what defined the word “home” for me, I would say without hesitation, my Mum. While being away from the comforting home and life she had created for me was difficult at first — her care packages and letters she sent each week made all the difference. Most of the letters were about daily stuff — what was happening at home, with my Dad, or how the cats were doing. But towards the end of the year, this letter arrived. I knew it was special from the minute I opened it. I had no way of knowing that less than five years later, I would be sharing the words in this letter as part of the eulogy I gave at her funeral.  

Throughout my high school years my mother battled a rare form of cancer. During those years, I lost track of the number of surgeries, and the radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  But all the while, I never once remember her complaining, or asking “why me?” Perhaps the fact that my mother grew up in England during World War II, where nights spent in bomb shelters, rations and stories of sacrifice and bravery defined her youth. All I knew was that my mother had incredible strength, optimism, and not for one minute did she ever believe she wouldn’t survive her battle with cancer. 

When I first read it, the part of the letter that struck me most was that she was proud of me. My mother always told me she loved me and how proud she was of me, but it was something different to see it in words, written on a page, in her beautiful handwriting — handwriting, by the way, I couldn’t read until I was nearly ten. My mother had been a secretary and knew shorthand, so her writing was a combination of cursive and shorthand in a style all it’s own. 

Years later, at her funeral, it was her last words that spoke to me most, and the ones I shared with family and friends gathered to say goodbye. They were: 

...we have to have some grey days in our lives in order to appreciate the bright sunny ones, and we have to make the best of them. I can’t help thinking how wonderful it is that at your young age you seemed to have learned this. Some people live a whole lifetime, Adrienne, and they never learn to love the rain.

If I learned to love the rain, I learned from my mother’s example. Looking back, I wonder which of her grey days she was remembering as she wrote those words. The day I read those words as part of her eulogy was the greyest day of my life to date, even 26 years later, but the brightness of her love and the memories of my time with her outshine the rain. Whenever I want to remember this, I need only to open the envelope that contains my mother’s beautiful words of love and support to be reminded. 

April 29th, 1985

My Dear Adrienne,

I am looking forward so much to having you home for the summer. To hear the front door open & to hear you say, “Hi it’s me.” Your dad & I have missed your very much since you went off to college but we know this is the first stage of our daughter’s independence. We love you very much & we are so very proud of you. We know you have worked long & hard in all of your classes & it’s been a struggle, so many times wanting to go out & have fun, or go to a party, but knowing that you have homework to do and that the studies come first.  

You have always been able to appreciate the small things in life, Adrienne – a diamond ring – a new 28oz – a trip around the world! So just kidding, I really mean the small & important things in life.  When we talked on the phone last week I remember your comment on the weather.  It was raining & you said when you were passing a couple of students they were complaining about the rain; how wet & miserable it was. You told me you were smiling inside because it brought back memories of England back to you & the air smelt so sweet & fresh.

Life is a little like that – we have to have some grey days in our lives in order to appreciate the bright sunny ones, & we have to make the best of them. I can’t help thinking how wonderful it is that at your young age you seemed to have learned that. Some people live a whole lifetime Adrienne & they never learn to love the rain.  
 

From your ever loving, 
Mum

 

A photo of Adrienne and Mum 

 

I Saw in My Mind a Vision of them Sparkling with Joy • Adrienne Harvitz

Brett Rawson

This micro-insight from Adrienne Harvitz reminds us of an important tradition: to create brand new ones. Ignoring the standard "To" and "From," Adrienne created gifts out of the paper wrapped around the presents for her children. Did most end up in the recycling bin? Sure, but one didn't.

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