Opinion: P.S. – write often

Alexandra Tinline headshot

Alexandra Tinline

We have the technology to be anonymous among the hundreds of thousands of trolls available at our fingertips. Using social media networks, like Twitter, we can post literally any random thought that pops in our head, updating users on every second of our lives. If you follow me, you’d know just by going through my timeline that yesterday, while in the shower, I choked on a chip and my life flashed before my eyes.

However, messages like this, translated off  of a digital screen, have no true meaning or feelings are behind them at times. As you keep scrolling, even words become absent. Emojis fill the absent spaces for intelligent, passionate words. Sometimes we even fail to complete are own words substituting the simple phrase “I love you” with “ily”. Don’t get me wrong, even I show neglect towards the English language and my elementary school teachers who taught me how to spell.

The screen has found a way to take the romance out of words. Technology has hindered our ability to express emotions through words by masking and hiding them. Instead of face-to-face interaction, a person can just cowardly hide behind a computer screen.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school, when I found the love letters exchanged between my grandparents during the Korean War, that I realized there was something lacking to the words I was reading through my phone.

We were cleaning out my grandparents’ house, packing away the last 60 years of their lives into stiff cardboard boxes. I was sent into my grandparents’ bedroom to retrieve belongings that were left behind. As I stretched further and further underneath their bed, stinging darkness engulfed me. I pushed my way through dust balls and spider webs in search of anything. When my eyes were not yet adjusted to the dark, my hand brushed against a rough surface. The tattered box read Florsheim Shoes. As I carefully opened the entrancing box, hundreds of tea stained letters stamped with seals from all over Europe were revealed. A musty smell of years of neglect was released. I unfolded the crisp paper revealing beautiful cursive in jet-black ink. I read the first paragraph aloud as if they were my own words.

“Dear Carson,

You’ve made me break my record so many times already, so here goes again. I don’t usually write to a fellow first, but then you’re not like other fellows, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do, now, that you’re not here.”

-Janet Flood to Carson Tinline 11:00pm December 31, 1951: letter 1

I traced the rises and falls of the letters with my finger as they eased across the page. With each word a different emotion lingered behind. I studied the hundreds of thousands of words in the 339 letters exchanged between the two. For me, their words painted a masterpiece.  I frequently would pause while reading, closing my eyes for a brief moment. I could imagine myself in my grandmother’s room, writing the letter, feeling every word expressed on paper. The scenes depicted were vibrant with life.

After that day, it’s difficult to find words that entrance me that much. I want words that live and breathe. Words like those in the letters of my grandparents. I wanted words that could last.

“I kept thinking about you and wondering if you made it safe and sound. By the way while we are on the subject of thinking of you, that’s all I’ve done since Monday night not eating or sleeping- just thinking of you. I never thought I could care for and miss someone as much as I have you. I guess I’ve really got it bad and to think I almost missed meeting you what a terrible thought. Like I said before fate deals the cards and lucky for me the mysterious lady dealt me a wonderful hand, one that I obviously don’t deserve. I only hope that you continue to think of me as I do of you. Even though we were with each other a very short time I feel as though I’ve known and loved you for a long, long time. You can view these comments with a cool attitude if you wish but honestly, Janet I mean them with all sincerity from the bottom of my heart…Goodnight my dearest- I’ll see you in my dreams, please write often.

All my love,


Carson Tinline to Janet Flood January 2nd, 1952: letter 3

These words lived far beyond my grandfather. Even though they resonated differently now, they endured.  I would then turn to read the useless updates on my friend’s lives. Their words were lifeless, dying pixels on the screen. Their words were easily forgotten and lost forever in cyberspace. I turned to my journal, writing constantly, hoping to find the meaning again in the words I treasured in those letters.  

You may just call me a hopeless romantic, and I know my life isn’t a Nicholas Sparks novel, but each word chosen had meaning behind it. They were words that were undisturbed. My grandparents were not anonymously hiding behind these words on a computer screen. They owned the words flowing out of their minds.  

That is why people today should do the same. Own your words. One should take the advice given by my grandfather in each of his letters.“p.s write often.”

Alexandra Tinline is an opinion columnist. Reach her at [email protected]