I believe I have forgotten how to write.
Not that I have forgotten how to assemble words into a pleasing and/or informative whole – that I can still do at least as well as I’ve ever been able to do it. Yes, I understand that this is considered a "straight line" in the comedy business, but there it is.
So it's not that.
Instead, I seem to have lost the ability to wrap my hand around a writing implement and produce something that could convey information to someone besides me.
On the one hand, this is not all that big of a step. My handwriting has always been a study in how meaning could be smuggled across the borders of legibility even in the best of times. It manages to be both jagged and loopy at the same time, with long swirling crossed t’s that one of my grade school teachers said looked as if someone had turned the paper sideways and drawn lines up and down. There are at least three letters that I make in obviously non-standard ways, none of which would I change for anyone. Getting from this situation to impossible was never going to be much of a trip.
On the other hand, though, writing was something I did for decades, every day, and if it wasn’t exactly Copperplate neither was it chicken scratch.
Somewhere in the last decade and a half, however, I stopped writing by hand for any audience other than myself. If someone else needed to see it, it got typed. And if I were the only one who needed to see it, it got printed in my own increasingly personalized scrawl of short and tall capitals, superscript abbreviations (an import from studying all those 18th-century documents) and acronyms that only I understood.
This morning it was time to pay the bills, and since I refuse to pay bills online that meant I had to haul out the checkbook and write out things that other people would correctly interpret so as not to cause late penalties by being unable to interpret who the money was for or bankrupt me by moving a decimal over or something.
And it was disturbingly hard.
The schools here in Our Little Town still teach kids how to write in cursive – apparently there are a number of places where this has been given up, along with slide rules and ink wells. Perhaps I should go back for a refresher course.