I write letters.
Reema Zaman

I, too, write letters. And emails, texts, and post-it notes. I write stories and journal my thoughts. I believe in the power of words.

I write notes of inspiration to friends or quick notes after a fight with a loved one. I cherish receiving snail mail or an e-card. It’s a form of communication that seems out-of-date — but that makes it special.

During my childhood, I had an envelope taped to my bedroom door that was my “mailbox.” My mom filled it with notes and cards expressing her love. When we fought, a note would appear in my mailbox with an apology. It was the perfect way of letting me know she cared while we both sorted through the emotions and cooled down. To this day, my mom sends me an email if we have a phone conversation that ends in tension.

I sent emails to my first boyfriend after fights or disagreements, sending my apologies and love in hopes of smoothing over our hardships while we were living in two different states. This is hard, I’d say, but we will make it. I saved the letter I wrote to myself after we broke up for the last time. Every time he contacted me, I read it. I forced myself to remember why it was never going to work with us.

After a recent breakup, I dropped a birthday card in my ex’s mailbox with a note filled with things I couldn’t say to him in person — things I knew I needed to say. During our time together, I wrote notes expressing my love and asking for forgiveness. It’s my thing. A note says: These are my thoughts. These are the things I want you to know. These are the things I can’t say out loud right now.

I still have the note he slipped into a chocolate bar. I found it months later, and smiled at every word. I have post-it notes he stuck on my laptop once when I left it at his place. The notes say “You’re awesome” and “I love you.” These notes — along with cards from family and friends — are in a box in my closet. Some days, when I’m feeling low, I look through the box to remember how much love I’ve had over the years — and how much I still have. And how many people understand my need for written word.

Words can hurt, heal, and inspire. I’ve done all three. Sometimes, in the moment, I say something hurtful or cruel. After reflecting on what I said, I write a note.

And I’ll keep writing notes and letters. To friends. To family. To lovers and ex-lovers. I look forward to writing notes to my future kids, full of love and encouragement, just like my mom gave me.

Thank you for opening your “mailbox.”