For years now, my friends have asked why I don’t keep my address book on my phone. Or in my g-mail account.
My little black book is showing it’s age. The cover bulges with envelopes and scraps of paper with addresses–updates for old friends and entries for new friends. The manufacturer no longer makes a companion address insert for the weekly calendar. Every year, at New Year’s, I’d buy a new address section and transfer all the addresses. I’d linger over the names as I brought them into the new year with me. And then there were the people I’d lost. My older relatives, friends who had died too young, friends who had died after a long good life. I mourned them again as I set my pen aside and thought of them.
I think my attachment to address books began years ago when my mother delegated to me the annual addressing of the Christmas cards. She had a battered brown address book. New entries were rare at a time when no one moved from their original homes. But there were the strike-throughs. When great Aunt Molly left her lifetime apartment on upper Broadway in New York, that famous address disappeared from my mother’s book as Aunt Molly moved in with us. Great Aunt Rose died from Alzheimer’s and that entry only listed her husband Stanley. When my mother’s sister, Mary, died, it was heart-breaking to see her name, with a line carefully bisecting it.
My handwriting was better then. Still neat from penmanship cursive classes. My mother trusted that the envelopes would be legible. Eventually, she had me sign the cards as well…Betty, Joe and family.
Now, my handwriting can only be deciphered by those who have learned the code. Even when I consciously shape each letter for enhanced legibility, sometimes I find myself puzzling over the marks. I am, however, an excellent typist. Thanks again to schooling. Typing I and II at Somers High School. My fallback business classes, along with Steno I. Why not smart phone book, g-mail or even a handy spreadsheet on my laptop?
I don’t want anything to come between me and the names I hold dear. There is already distance. Geography. Complicated lives. For this time, not only do I write cards, I record names. Each letter shaped. Each person carried into the new year. It’s the simplest of stories I tell. The information changes more frequently. Overseea locations are common. Zip codes are no longer clustered in New England.
Moleskine, that purveyor of wonderful toys for writers (especially us Luddites), now offers a small black address book. No more tattered pages; I’ll have a fresh book for each year. Starting today.