A few winters ago, in a dark restaurant, I sat across from a friend who confessed the following: She records her schedule in a giant book. As she described the behemoth, with her arms as wide as her placemat, she mimed the shape of her unwieldy planner, looking smitten and secretive, as if she was telling me about an illicit affair.
Not only did my friend track her appointments on paper, she wrote in cursive.
Days later, I opened an old Moleskine of mine, greeted by text in all CAPS, a style I tried out because I disliked my printed (juvenile, illegible) penmanship. My friend’s confession lingered, and I wondered if I even remembered how to write in cursive.
Pen in hand, I took out a new journal and looped letters on the page. When was the last time I did this? Elementary school? The initial strokes appeared awkward, shaky and tight. But after a few sentences, the curves smoothed, and the writing became fluid.
Is it too dramatic to describe the experience as intoxicating? Maybe I’m mixing the two memories. There’s my friend, confessing, as she sips on wine, and I sip on whiskey. Then there’s me, writing in cursive. I felt carried away.
I didn’t know cursive could be this delicious, or any kind of delicious. In school, cursive aimed for perfection. We traced shapes and drew the alphabet as if vowels and consonants were fixed entities. As if the letters needed to conform. But this felt different. This felt expressive.
My friend knows how modern society would perceive her archaic diary — impractical, inefficient, cumbersome — that’s why she talked about her paper planner the way people talk about forbidden love. Confessing her indiscretion. How dare she flirt with Luddism when technology offered comfort and ease.
When I reconnected with that sensation, feeling a tactile connection to my thoughts (much different than tapping keys), I understood my friend’s romantic tone. Handwriting is emotional.
The cool part about reconnecting with cursive was that I finally saw the beauty in my handwriting. And as a result, I reverted to an archaic ritual of my own: sending birthday cards via snail mail.
Every time I sat down to write a loved one’s birthday message, I tapped into that emotional connection. The proof came when my recipients reached out to me. I didn’t expect this type of response, but nearly everyone told me the same thing: When I read your letter, I cried.