March 03, 2021
I originally wrote this post May 20, 2020 - it was two months into the pandemic and I was exhausted and disconnected. Now, almost a year later, I am exhausted and disconnected in a way that feels different, but no less real. I have found that re-focusing on various physical manifestations of care - both for myself and others - is helping me battle the fatigue I'm sure we're all feeling. This post is about one of those physical manifestations: the regular old handwriting of a person you love. Enjoy!
My non-binary boyfriend Killian (they/them or he/him) is the assistant manager of one of the sex toy stores that sell my cards and pins. One evening during a date I was telling them about a market I had recently worked, chatting about which new cards did the best. The card that won that day was Be Gay, Do Crimes.
They chimed in “oh yeah, I like that one! At work It’s sitting right where I can see it if I’m behind the front desk. Sometimes if it’s a long day I’ll see it out of the corner of my eye and be like ‘OH! Erica’s handwriting!’ And it will make me feel a little more warm and cozy”.
Reader, I blushed so hard.
Once my cheeks calmed down and I stopped dying from how much I love them, it also clarified a lot for me.
This is why I am obsessed with greeting cards (even if I forget to actually send my snail mail half the time…). There’s something about the intimacy and physicality of handwriting that brings a loved one close, even if they are miles away. The card itself can be meaningful and important, but it’s the message you write that turns it into magic.
When I was in graduate school I pulled way more all-nighters than my brain or body cared for. During one particularly grueling sprint, my partner Alexis tore off a small piece of paper and wrote a note for me to look at after she went to sleep. It read simply: “you are loved”.
Sure enough, when 3am rolled around and my tired brain decided maybe I couldn’t do it, and maybe that meant I was the worst, just a mess all alone - I looked at that scrawled note. And I knew I was loved.
Yesterday I received a card from Killian, and it made me cry. Not just because of what it said, but because we’re two months into quarantine, no end in sight, and I haven’t been able to have any physical reassurance of their existence and care since mid-March.
Our relationship suddenly became quasi-long distance, without much warning and without a chance for us to adjust. Seeing their handwriting, knowing they put effort into giving me this thing, and reading about the random thoughts that were going through his head that day made my week. Isolating is the right thing to be doing - no question about it - but it sure is, well, isolating. Their letter helped, more than I even imagined it would. I’m going to be writing my own return love letter as soon as I finish this post.
It just needs to be from you.
Of course, hand written notes are not a panacea. Grad school still wasn’t for me, long days at work are sometimes just never ending, and I miss hugging Killian so much it hurts. But damn, it helps. I struggle with black and white thinking, especially when it comes to self worth and anxiety. It’s easy to feel trapped in a narrow and agonizing thought pattern. The handwriting of someone I love manages to ground me in the here and now, while simultaneously reminding me of the there and the what-was-and-will-be.
It tickles me pink to think that glancing at my handwriting might do that for the people I love, especially when I can’t be around to tell them just how loved they are. When you write out a note on paper and give it to your person, I bet it does the same thing. It doesn’t even need to be clever or deeply meaningful - just there, in your hand, a little reminder of you.
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October 22, 2020
July 22, 2020
Today's story is about how I came up with the concept for Our Back Pockets (stationery to celebrate queer lives, heyyyy), as well as how I came up with the name Our Back Pockets.