July 5, 2010

On the Road

Anne McMurray (Beta – Northwestern)
09-10 ELC

The weight limit on checked bags is something that every ELC knows intimately. Each of us is an expert on exactly how much one can pack into our specific suitcase, and how to work a little magic when bags get close to fifty pounds. So it’s interesting to consider those little things we can’t imagine living without on the road, our life essentials—things we’d carry with us no matter how heavy they were.

For me, it’s stationery.

I have a specific pocket I reserve just for cards and when I have a little down time at a bookstore, I make sure to check out their supply of paper products. Now, while this isn’t the most usual essential, I’ve found it to be incredibly beneficial to many relationships I’ve had and made.

There is nothing more universally appreciated by volunteers and friends alike than a show gratitude and thoughtfulness. Dashing off a few lines in a handwritten note is the simplest way to make a fantastic impression and assure a good relationship. After each of my visits, I have made sure to send or leave thank you notes for my hosts, and thank every person that has put effort into making my time there well spent and enjoyed.

Even beyond thank you notes, a handwritten note is a special way of keeping in touch with all my friends and family members that because of my sometimes crazy schedule I’m not able to call as regularly as I’d like.

My grandmother and I regularly send each other letters, and just last month her sister found a stack of postcards that my grandmother sent her detailing her honeymoon in Europe many years ago. She has a happy reminder of all the wonderful things she experienced—one that no Facebook album will rival. I like to think that at some point down the road, one of my close friends will be able to do the same, and we’ll be able to reminisce about the year I spent traveling the country and collecting stories.

So, the next time you’re looking for the right way to express how much someone means to you, put down your laptop and pull out your pen.

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