Sending letters amid the pandemic revitalized my passion for writing

The Channels Opinion Page | STAFF COLUMN

Alloy Zarate, Associate Editor

As a kid I would spend hours sitting in my closet reading books for comfort.

My parents worked physically demanding jobs all day and when they were home they just wanted to rest.

Even though both of my parents were around, I felt like I couldn’t really spend time with them. 

I was lonely.

In the second grade my teacher introduced me to the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book series by Jeff Kinney. The hours spent reading in my cozy and cluttered closet inspired me to start my own diary.

It wasn’t deep at first.

My first few entries were about my favorite shows on “Disney Channel” accompanied by a couple of flower doodles. But eventually writing became a way for me to vent about all my weird middle school emotions, like I was confiding in a close friend.

Going into middle school I started showing symptoms of anxiety.

Every night my mind would be racing, overthinking every text I sent or wondering if a test I failed would ruin my life. A diary helped me slow down and get those things from my mind onto a page.

I continued to write everyday throughout high school.

Sometimes I would write for hours coming up with profound realizations about my place in the universe. Other times I’d write a couple sentences on what I did in school that day.

But then the pandemic came and my mind just went blank.

My brain and body didn’t know how to respond to everything around me changing so suddenly. I was just trying to make things work and get the semester over with.

I’ve been immensely lucky that no one in my family has lost their job and I have the technology I need to continue with remote-school, so it didn’t seem fair to reach out to a friend who could be going through something worse than me. 

I physically and socially shut myself off from the world.

Most of my summer days were spent either sleeping or playing video games. I completely ceased from writing in my diary because nothing in my life felt worthy of documenting.

This changed when my sister was admitted in the hospital for a night.

I sat in my mom’s car alone because only one of us was allowed in with her. My mind started racing again and I yearned for a pen, some paper and a friend to talk to.

I wanted to impulsively call someone, but I decided it wouldn’t be fair to ask for that kind of emotional support from someone I haven’t spoken to in months.

I pondered that feeling for a few weeks, finally deciding to buy some stamps.

Sending letters in the mail seemed like the perfect way for me to reconnect with my love of writing and catch up with my friends.

I wrote about my favorite new video games, the trippy dreams I’ve been having and general life updates. Within the letter I got to include some questions to prompt conversation.

It was a bro talk in paper format, a deep emotional talk through written text.

Putting that first letter in the mail made me feel so relieved and happy. I was sharing my life with someone. My hope was they would write back but I let them know it was cool if they didn’t have the capacity for it.

I was ecstatic to find a letter addressed to me in the mailbox a couple weeks later.

I ran to my bedroom to find scissors and see what was inside and immediately started working on a response.

My passion for writing was reinvigorated and it didn’t have to be a lonely activity anymore.

Once again I have my journal as a close friend to confide in, and that has helped me immensely during the pandemic.