In 2009, I worked at a summer camp as a historical reenactor. I lived in 1941 that summer, having no electricity and only one spigot for water. Thinking that my biggest adjustment to my new situation would be chopping wood for our stove, I soon realized that wasn’t the case.
At this point, I had owned my cell phone for 8 years. I didn’t go anywhere without it. I realized my first day at the cabin there was no reception. There wasn’t reception in the field, by the firewood pile, or a half a mile up the road. I was in a black hole for technology and it would stay that way for the next three and a half months.
My schedule would be 9 days working and 2 days off. On the two days off, I was able to walk to a bus loop and get a ride to basecamp where I could use the internet, showers and my phone. Other than that, I was going to have to write.
If I were going to get the most out of my 2 days off, I would have to write my friends through the camp mail system to make plans. Basically, I would write a letter and staff would eventually deliver it for me. However, the letters could be sitting in the mail room for a week before the staff have a reason to go out to the camps. So it would take a bit of time.
Whenever a truck pulled into our camp three girls in lace up boots, full length skirts, linen shirts and hats (myself included) raced toward it. If one of us got mail we would all sit around to see what it said. Sometimes, we even got a full bag of mail and we couldn’t be happier.
Most of the letters were short and cheesy. I had a friend send me seasoning (yes, for cooking) in a plastic bag with a note that said “Spice up your life.” Another friend received a note that said, “I love you like backcountry boys love bacon.” Nevertheless, we loved the letters.
Every summer, about this time, I begin missing that cabin. I miss not having a phone and sitting in a rocking chair on my porch reading letters from my friends. Sometimes, I turn my phone off and take my pen and paper out to write the girls.
There’s a peacefulness about writing letters. Without music on or our phones ringing, we are able to focus purely on the task at hand, the person we are writing to and the happy memories we have had. Time stands still for a few minutes while we write.