When someone sends through a new letter, you would not know what changes it could bring you; just like when taking the wrong train in an unfamiliar city, you would not know what sort of view is coming up, but it’s worthy.
So far I have exchanged over 100 letters with a stranger, my new friend .Fr3d. on Slowly. Yet our interest in communicating continues to grow. About 7 months ago, I received a letter from this stranger, which was quite simple and straightforward, sent after reading through my profile. As it mentioned I enjoy Chemistry and Mathematics, he said it’s rare to find girls in Science, and if asked I would like to discuss more with him. Other than that, he did not mention anything about himself.
I went through his profile, and I did not find much in common; other than we are both Chinese living in Australia. Our profile and the letters are both written in English, and I made my mind not to reply. Days later, I could not resist writing back, and telling him that half of the class in my lectures are girls, who are smart and kind. I also recommended him the movie “Hidden figures”. Surely this reply is filled with my anger at “his prejudice”. But now, through my perspective at least, I am glad that I replied something. And his incoming reply followed, as our third letter.
He apologized in the letter, and said he looked forward to receiving my next one. My anger was eased, and I started to think if I overreacted. By the third letter he sent me, our hobbies and interests in common suddenly popped up from nowhere.
Like the raindrops that fall into the river, one by one, drip in, mix, splash, and carry on with more topics. In a week’s time, I’ve come to consider writing letters to each other as a must-do daily task. Waiting for incoming letters, and discovering more things we have in common makes me so excited. Especially when I had some words saved for the next letter, but he happens to write them to me in his reply.
We started exchanging letters in English, with a few Chinese words mixed in; plus checking grammar and spelling errors for each other. Later we switched to write in Chinese, otherwise, the writing takes too long. Something worth mentioning here, on average it takes us about 1 to 2 hours to write a new letter. And the longest one on record, it took .Fr3d. 4 hours to write!
Thus you can see we have such a variety of topics to chat about, that I am very grateful that he is willing to talk to me. At one point, I hurt my hand, and told him that I wouldn’t be able to write for a few days. So he wrote me an extra letter, thus even I didn’t write anything, I would still have something to read. It’s touching. .Fr3d. is a special penpal.
He would write things, bring me refreshing new ideas, happy to listen and share valuable experiences. We talk about culture, jargon and electric bills in the Winter, he mentioned books, Mozart, likes and dislikes. I describe my earnest wishes and dreams.
By the time I felt ready to exchange instant messenger IDs with him, he happened to send me the invitation first. Well, his choice of words was much more elegant and polite than mine would be. I accepted, so now short thoughts and quick messages have a good channel to flow thru. Messaging via Wechat made me realize that we are also highly synchronized in life; even our user IDs have the same 4 letters, in the same sequence. Maybe we would meet up offline, in real life; we might travel together, I’m also super grateful to get to know him. Running into such a similar yet interesting soul does not happen everyday; having a pal who is willing to listen and get to know you is so elusive.
Thank you, .Fr3d. Also to the Slowly team, a huge credit goes to you guys. Last but not least, thanks Yann2, who volunteered to improve the grammar of my English version story.
PS. .Fr3d. is gathering data of all stamps Slowly app has published so far, and uploading them to a wiki page he developed. He also planed to add a stamp comparing tool, hence it would be handy for penpals to exchange new stamps.