The birth of my first child changed my life in such a myriad of ways, I did the only thing I could think to do as a writer: I wrote about him and the new me I was discovering. I wrote to document and to understand, because the contradictions of my new life baffled me, both my deep love for the baby and the bewildering grief at leaving my old life behind. I wrote in my journal, and I wrote letters to friends. When they responded, I wrote extravagant thank you notes.
Now that child stands taller than I do, those early days sometimes seem like a place from long ago, a home I left behind. But one friend kept every missive I sent her about my new baby, and recently gifted me back a box full of my letters to her.
I sift through those physical artifacts, and their tactile presence places me back in those early moments as a new mother, when to keep back the tide threatening to overwhelm I scrawled a line or two and stuffed it in an envelope. The need to post the letter gave me a reason to get out of the house, to pack up the baby I was still learning, so I could send out my latest struggles, and even my celebrations—send them to someone far outside the daily cycle of tending, feeding, caring.
When is the last time you wrote or received a letter—a physical memento of emotions, desires, connections?
This year the National Day on Writing takes place on Wednesday, October 20. The day is a national celebration of writing sponsored by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and officially recognized through a congressional resolution. Locally, the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning is sponsoring “Letters From Home: A Glimpse of the Bluegrass Through Handwritten Words,” an event designed to encourage the public to write and send longhand letters to friends, family, and U.S. soldiers.
So tomorrow, I’ll be writing new letters from my home in the Bluegrass, at Good Foods Cafe from 11 to 1. The Cafe is one of 14 locations around Lexington where you can celebrate National Day on Writing by composing a handwritten letter with other writers. (You can find the full list by clicking the link to the Carnegie Center’s web site, above.) The day’s events will culminate at the Carnegie Center for a community reading and celebration at 5:30 PM. Participation in National Day on Writing activities is free and open to everyone.
Come write with other writers. Make a new artifact or two. Post your letter and send out your words, from the home you’re in at the moment, into the world.