by Barrie Hardymon
The boy I liked (like-liked) in high school wrote me one note, and one note only during the year that we had Spanish together. It read, "We should hang out somtime [sic]." Because it was a statement and not a query, I did not reply, even though I agreed heartily with the sentiment. And thus died the relationship, and subsequently my Spanish grades. I did however, save the note. It was pinned to the inside of my closet door (inexplicably) for at least a year after that, and was moved from shoebox to folder to underbed storage for years. I'm sure I never would have thrown it out, and I still expect to find it someday.
The reason I'm thinking about that boy is because of Robert Wright's article on nytimes.com, about how the digital world has revealed so many correspondences that would hitherto (and perhaps thankfully) have remained uncovered, like Mark Sanford's impassioned prose to Maria. (He goes on to muse about whether that new transparency encourages cheating, but that's another argument for another blog post.) I suppose that note which was passed from desk to desk would, these days, be a text message. The funny thing is, as enduring as we agree digital messages are, a text message would never have lasted as long as that strip of paper -- it would have been preserved briefly on a cell phone that would ultimately have been upgraded, its messages discarded.
This is not another call to return to paper and ink -- I'm accustomed now to my digital epistles. But I do want to point out that emails, text messages, etc., are actually harder to save. Oh, and in the event of sudden fame, if a newspaper reporter were to find that plaintive little statement from my Spanish buddy? There would have been no way to trace its origin. Except for the spelling. That guy was a seriously bad speller.