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Wednesday, July 17, 2024


Write Letters, Visit Places

Eric Conklin - Use this One

By Eric Conklin

This piece is dedicated to my friend, Air National Guard recruit Amanda Lafferty.
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, I decided to travel to Texas, if you consider a recent letter I wrote. I’ve used mailboxes as motels and post offices as airports.
While on my way to work one morning, I guaranteed that my first letter in months would travel farther than I have. I pulled alongside an unusual week’s end traffic, which resembled the Parkway in summer, and commissioned that letter to my friend, Mandi.
Through mutual friends, we met in summer 2014 while she took frequent trips to her parents’ summer home, in Brigantine. A casual day at the beach turned into late-night texts, a Train concert and an invite to Rowan for a party or two.
A tall young woman with black hair, Mandi left home, near Springfield, Pa., to commit herself to the Air National Guard. For someone who loves animals affectionately, one would think that someone like her joining the military is like Ocean City’s Double Shot ride, changing direction suddenly.
I hope that until she heads home, my letter is kept by her bedside, as something to scare off any self-doubts she encounters. Further, I can’t wait to meet a new member of the Air National Guard in a few months.
I love traveling, even if it’s only to nearby Philly or New York. Unfortunately, I haven’t traveled as far as I’d like to, a likely result of parents who haven’t had an extra comma or two saved in the bank. I’ve yet to personally be on an airplane or hug Mickey Mouse at Disney World.
Despite lacking those experiences, I’ve traveled as far as Minnesota, and now Texas. I’ve probably passed side streets and dead ends, as well as over mountains during snowstorms.
It hit me recently: How is traveling defined?
Typically, human travel is thought of as happening when people use a form of transportation to physically move between places. It’s surprising more people don’t include spreading their presence in a letter as a way to travel.
Might people reconsider where they haven’t gone if they include written letters in the mix? If you’re old-school, like many folks, bill payments can be used as a way to say, “Greetings from Sunny California” – or wherever that particular bill is headed.
Even a text to my friend, Leo, who recently relocated to Queens, N.Y., his childhood home, could be considered a quick trip up north. A letter, though, is the best way to travel, one that many people have forgotten still exists.
There are plenty of Mandis and Leos out there looking for someone to visit them, even when their day may only have minutes to spare to read a letter.
No vacation time is needed, just a few minutes during the day.
Hopefully, I’ll soon get a letter from Mandi, and she’ll have the pleasure of saying, “Greetings from Jersey.”
ED. NOTE: The author is the editorial assistant at the Cape May County Herald. To contact Conklin, email

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