June 14, 2014

For the Love of a Note by Pamela Mytroen

Box 591. I will never forget that number. It was my box number in College, you know, the student boxes in the academic building you checked every day along with a crush of students, looking for personal notes from friends, and if we were lucky, a love note.

It was this box in the middle of a hallway that magnified my love for words. Those golden words enriched my life immediately and for eternity. The moment I saw the edge of a card angled in my box I knew it would be a treasure. I would pull the other mail from my box – schedules and account information – and read it quickly while letting the anticipation of the personal note build. Who was it from? What little gems would I glean from it? Finally I would allow myself to indulge in the luxury of the personal, handwritten words. Then it would be tucked into my binder to be read again between classes or in the library for a pick-me-up during research. Reading it again before bed was the sweetest. These were notes that encouraged me to hang in there, notes that said thank you for a kindness expressed, that shared a bible verse, a prayer or a hope for a dream come true.

The notes that set my fingers shaking were from my boyfriend. It didn’t take long and I recognized the small loopy script. Though it was only a loose-leaf plucked from his binder it may as well have been written on rose-petals. My heart would thump sideways before I even finished unfolding the simple sheet of paper. The words, whether a simple “How’s your day going?” or an invitation to an evening out, always covered me in goose bumps and made even the most boring moments in class feel like a Broadway musical.

I took great care in concocting just the right phrases and sentiments when I wrote notes to my friends. When I got a response, I knew I had connected and that made it so worthwhile. I wrote notes of encouragement when a friend was lonely, scared, sick, exhausted, or just needed a little boost. Sometimes I wrote anonymous notes to send my friends on a mystery journey, intended to bring a laugh at the end when they discovered the truth. One time I wrote a note intending to be funny but my friend found it very hurtful. I realized then that words have power – for building or tearing down – and we must be careful how we use them.

We have lost a powerful sense of touch through our dependence on electronics. Social media is quick and convenient but there is something about tugging a note from a box, smoothing it out, and tucking it away to enjoy later. The sense of anticipation and reward is heightened along with the physical connection to your friend. Also, seeing their own handwriting identifies them and gives them a voice that sets them apart from the generic font of an email or text.

I wonder who uses Box 591 now. Are they rewarded as they reach into their box? Are they challenged and encouraged? I would like my writing to be as a note peeking from that box, a note that jump-starts a heart, a note that will be treasured and hidden away to be enjoyed again and again. Today I will write a note for Box 591.


  1. This makes me think of the love notes written to me, to you, to all of us in God's word - carefully inspired in those who would record what he wanted us to pour over, to treasure, to take to bed with us.

    Personal notes. Our lives, our love, our writing are notes written in response to his love notes to us.

    I like that.

  2. Your story really made me think. I, too, remember the anticipation of a real note from a friend - especially the two (yes, only two!) that I got from my boyfriend (now husband) while he was away working.

    I agree that I we have lost some of this personal touch because of social networks and texting. On the other hand, I do enjoy the immediacy of keeping in touch in today's world.

  3. I am with you on that, Bobbi. God's Word is his love note to us, to be treasured. And Tracy, I agree about social media - I love keeping in touch with my kids so often, but I do miss those paper notes!

  4. Anonymous5:03 am GMT-7

    I enjoyed this Pam, especially since Reg and I first met at the mail boxes at Bible College in Eston...He loved my smile, I loved his kind, brown eyes and the rest is history! I might just have to write about that special meeting sometime....are you really going to write a note to the present owner of the mailbox? That would be interesting...

  5. Your writing is always to interesting and holds my attention.
    I commend you on your responses to those who wrote to you. I'm so poor at that.
    But I'd love to know how you responded to your boyfriend!

  6. Ha ha Bryan! I must have had the wrong response because I ended up marrying somebody else!
    And Gloria - I intended that to be a symbolic letter, but you do have a great idea! Maybe I really will write a letter to the current owner. :)


  7. Thanks for this post ... notes are such wonderful encouragement tools!

  8. I agree Pam--there is something in a hand-written note that touches the soul. Thanks for the reminder.


Thank you for taking the time to join in the conversation. Our writers appreciate receiving your feedback on posts you have found helpful or meaningful in some way.