I always wanted to have one when I was a kid. Back in the days when there was no email or WhatsApp. I remember scouring through the Sunday paper to find out if there were some people from far flung nations who were looking for penpals, too.

I wrote to one. From Norway, I think. I used my best handwriting. My dad posted the letter for me. Everyday when he came home from work, I wanted to know if I got mail. I didn’t hear back from that one, or any other for that matter.

But I compensated for it by writing many many letters. Even to people right next to me.

Here’s one a possible outcome had this penpal thing happened in adulthood (with a romantic twist!).

Letters from a distant land

I look forward to your letters

My secret pal

About your life

From a distant land

I read about your life

From that place, Scotland

Of snowmen, sledges and skis

Maple syrup and reindeers

Of greetings like hiya!

That are unheard of here

I write about my days

And our different ways

I tell you that we can see a beef cow

Hung upside down at the butcher’s door

Oh wow! You say. Not repacked!

I brag that sometimes we kill it ourselves

You write and say, can’t wait to see for myself

You’ve always wanted to see Africa, you say

To see the lustrous hills

And sparkling beach

To watch the sunset

On the snowcapped mountain

I think of your visit

From that distant land

How you’ll stick out

In a sea of us, brown

How thrilled I’ll be

To show you around

I long for your letters

From that distant land

With high speed trains

And grass called heather

With four different kinds of weather

You’ve bought your ticket to Africa, you say

You write to say, you’ve never been more proud

You’ll shop for safari boots and a hat

You can hardly wait to be out and about

I think of your impending visit

My heart leaps

Will I run into your open arms?

Will you say hello with a kiss?

And hold my hand in the African heat?

Will you say I am pretty?

And go down on one knee

Will our lives together be perfect?

As our letters have been?

The letters that kept coming in

Like a cold drink in the heat

Will I finally look into your eyes?

And express the things I couldn’t write

That just from our letters

I was sure that this was love

That even though you are

From a distant land

That somehow we were meant to last

I see your face at the arrivals terminal

My heart palpitates until it hurts

Just like in the picture

It’s you alright

So dashing in your safari boots and hat

I watch as you look around

I want to say, you are home at last!

I holler your name across the terminal

I rush towards you, everyone watching us

You lift me up, like a child, with a hug and a twirl

I let out a delightful shrill, so loud

I feel the Africa breeze on my skin

And with a kiss on my cheek

You say, you are so pretty missy

I fail to see, right behind us

A beautiful blonde babe watching us

Oh! You say — This is my wife Lisa

She reaches for me in a tight embrace

I hold back my tears

As you introduce us

My very worst fears

Have come to pass

I had harbored thoughts there was an “us”

Wasn’t it implied in our letters?

Surely this was not part of the plan

I was to be your African queen

Till death do us part