Two weeks ago, Puyallup’s Mitzi Dunayski discovered a treasure in the back of her closet. A folder full of notes that she’d been passed in high school nearly 25 years ago. Many of them are from her friend Tina Nole.
“I met Tina at daycare, the Toddler House in Lakewood, and it was right next to the Pancake House,” Mitzi says. “We were probably 3 years old.”
Passing notes was a huge part of daily life for many girls coming of age before texting and Twitter.
“I would fold mine into T-shirts sometimes. You would decorate the top of it with little flowers and butterflies,” Tina says.
“Definitely,” Mitzi says. “We would write the letters backwards or we would write them in circles.”
Looking back now, as adults, the notes mean so much more than their often frivolous content might imply.
“It’s nice to see that long history of life laid out in paper like this,” Tina says. “Now we have a record of the time we were young and it brings back all of these memories. In comparison to kids today, I sound like I’m 90, they won’t get that record. You won’t get to look back and see the funny doodley things you wrote, and my penmanship.”
Speaking of kids today, meet Seattle teens, and close friends, Georgie, Izzi, Ellie and Claire.
“I’ve never really seen anyone passing paper notes in school,” says Georgie Goldberg, a soon-to-be senior at Ballard High School.
Georgie says they mostly text each other, and use Twitter and snapchat.
“I could, like, text in all of my classes.”
“I always have my phone on my desk, no matter what,” Izzi Scott adds.
But is there actually a difference in significance between the quick, instant gratification of a text messages and the handwritten notes?
Mitzi, who’s the mother of a 14, 16 and 24 year old, thinks writing notes brings a creativity and level of care that can’t be matched electronically.
“You know, with texting, they text it really quick and they hit send and it’s out there. With writing letters, it’s like, we labored over thinking about what we’re going to say. We made sure to open and close with something good.”
The girls say they used to write notes in junior high.
“It’s, like, fun opening a note. It’s fun to make too. You get to draw and write this note to your friend,” says Ellie Giesa.
Does that mean note writing could actually be more fun than social media?
“[Social media] is really, like, an unsatisfying thing,” says Claire Comiskey. “For one second you’re like, this is great, but then after you’re like, this sucks. This is so boring.”
So why did they stop writing notes? The girls say they all got cell phones.
“Most of the time when we hang out, we’re on our phones, which is ridiculous,” Izzi says. “During the school year, [we’re on our phones] about five hours a day.”
But the girls seemed just as bonded, and giggly and close, as the women did in their interview. So maybe, in the end, the method of communication isn’t as important as the message itself.
“The depth of our friendship, the love. Every time I wrote ‘Love you tons’ and ‘BFF.’ There’s something really special about young girls and their friendships and their deep love for one another,” says Tina. “We just spent so much time together, you live at their house, you wear their clothes.”