Avis de Passage: A series of letters from Paris

Last night, I hosted a dinner party. The white taper candles were lit. The vintage crockery was out. I uncorked a bottle of red wine and set it on the table. “Sparkle and Shine”—my festive Guests-Are-Over playlist served as a soft soundtrack. I’d thrown on a silk dress purchased last summer on the Côte d’Azur and my guest wore a velvet kimono trimmed with long, navy fringe. The menu? Coniglio all’Ischitana, a nod to my nostalgia for pre-pandemic summer holidays to the pedestrianized village of Sant’Angelo. There was certainly a sense of occasion.

But this isn’t about my dinner party (though I could wax on about how much I love having people come over for dinner). This is about letters. You see, while I was serving up the salad, my guest noticed a handwritten letter resting on top of my printer.

“LAUREN who is this FROM?” she said, admiring the elegant calligraphy on the envelope.

“Which one?” I called out from the kitchen corner.

“WHICH ONE?! How many are there?”

“I write a lot of letters,” I said, sheepishly, carrying our plates to the table.

It’s not a line. I swear it’s true. I’m not sure what came first—a childhood obsession with In the Good Old Summertime or an insatiable thirst for bougie stationery, but I like to write letters. If I know you in real life and I like you, you’ve probably got one lying around. If I really like you, you’ve probably got a stack. I love narrative letters, goofy letters, love letters, experimental, creative letters, I was just thinking of you! letters, painfully personal letters. I love to write them and receive them, too.

After selecting the stationery set that channels my current mood and the perfect, inky pen, I settle down at my table to write. Unlike the anxiety-inducing experience of staring into the white glow of a blank word document, the cursor blinking like a metronome, when I’m writing a letter my words just flow. There’s something magical in the way writing longhand connects me to my inner thoughts and feelings. I’m not talking about Lauren at her most clever, though sometimes I do read a letter back to myself before slipping it into the mailbox and think “oh, that’s a nice way of putting it!” Writing longhand isn’t conducive to creating my art. It’s not studied, polished writing, but it flows from the heart: from me to you. In a world of digital immediacy, it’s a time capsule in an envelope. And who wouldn’t love to receive one of those, amidst all of the bills and bank statements cluttering our mailboxes?

If you’re interested in reading a letter from Paris once a month or so, consider subscribing to Avis de Passage, my new newsletter on Substack. Pen pals may come and go, but I promise I’ll be your faithful correspondent.

Bisous de Paris,

Lauren

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