Last week I got a postcard in the mail from a friend who I’ve known for about four years. As I read about her summer adventures in Amsterdam, I realized something: I do not know what the majority of my friend’s handwriting looks like.
In middle school, my friends and I agonized over which way to write a lowercase a: would it be to draw the round bit first and finish with a neat vertical dash (as we’d been taught), or the more stylish (so we deemed) way, which involved drawing the vertical dash first with a little hook on top (and sometimes bottom if you wanted some extra flair)? The former seemed boring and practical; the latter, mature and unique although more time-intensive. I personally settled on the first way, but the point is: I knew all of my friend’s penmanships and they knew mine.
And of course, I know my family’s handwriting. After practicing my parent’s signatures for hours I had every stroke perfected and was able to fool many at Guess Which One’s Real?, in which I presented a version of my dad’s signature and my forged version for examination. My sister’s writing is neat and tidy and when she signs her name the s on the end has a little upward swoosh to it. My grandma’s handwriting, on letters and cards sent at most major holidays, joined each letter properly to the next and was slanted at just the right, uniform degree. Is cursive writing even taught in school anymore?
I suppose in place of handwriting I can now recognize my friends by the way they electronically communicate. I know who writes in all lowercase, who signs their name with their first initial or with nothing at all, who laughs in hahas, lols or hee hees, and who emotes through a colon next to a bracket.
Still, though. Nothing will ever replace a handwritten note.