This evening seemed like a good time to absent one's self from the vexations of the world, leave social media and the thousand channels a-streaming behind, and visit an old friend in a year long past.
I remember when e-mail started killing off the letter, before social media started killing off the e-mail. It suddenly struck me that I was never going to get a six pages of single-spaced thoughts from an engaged Sherlockian mind written just for me. And I was not going to respond with same.
Knowing that you couldn't pass your written thoughts along with a trip to the post office meant you spent a little more time on said thoughts -- you could always drop off a letter on the way to work the next morning, so why not spend an evening on it? An essay for an audience of one.
There were years back in the eighties when a single year of letters from one Sherlockian friend could be as thick as a paperback novel. And I was lucky enough to have a few of those friends, probably because we had thoughts to exchange about Mr. Sherlock Holmes and the people who love him. "The Sherlockians I know seem to share a love of five things, in varying order," one friend wrote, "Holmes, drink, food, books, and gossip." Personally I might have gone, "Food, Holmes, gossip, books, and drink," but there was plenty of letter-writing material to be found in that list. And with a whole evening to write, you didn't have to just stop at the first or second.
I was sorting through some boxes and taking a few notes when I decided to just spend the evening in the company of one friend's thoughts from a single year -- a very important year in my Sherlockian life, when important decisions were being made. But it wasn't anything about me that made this evening worthwhile. No, it was all the other people we wrote about, the lives we were all leading then.
So many names of much-loved Sherlockians long gone, and even one recently gone, wander into the paragraphs, with little stories of their words and deeds that make one smile and feel their loss. Friends you've lost touch with, for reasons you simply cannot remember. And even parts of yourself you'd let slip away.
The daily mail delivery was like a little Christmas morning every day on a good week, during parts of my correspondence years. And really, I could probably tie the waning of a few friendships to the rise of e-mail and fall of the letter -- we just didn't all adapt to the new tech at the same rate. I have to wonder what life would be like today, had not the internet age happened?
Ah, but that's the nostalgia kicking in, isn't it? Or maybe just the weariness at the current state of things.
Perhaps I'll pick up that book that came in the mail today, rather than getting close enough to Facebook or Twitter to post a link to any of this. Finding any excuse to step away from the current vexations for a while is not exactly a bad thing these days.
If you're paying attention, you usually know when a winter storm is coming. Wrapping yourself in a blanket to get through the night is nothing to be ashamed of, and can be kind of nice. Because when the morning comes, you'll be ready to get out and shovel the snow.
Because there's a lot of a four-letter word that begins with "s" to shovel off the world's driveway right now. And all the things that an eight-letter name that begins with "S" has brought to our lives are there to help.