It began, innocently enough, with two fountain pens.
A trusted colleague, whom I’ve come to love for his rare blend of quirky kindness and razor sharp wit, knocked on my office door one quiet morning.
He handed me a small bag. Inside were two Platinum Preppy fountain pens, one red, one blue. I was touched by his thoughtfulness. Only a week before, I’d admired his pen on our bus ride home. He waited patiently as I spun the curved plastic between my fingers and made squiggly circles in his tiny notebook that he carried in the same pocket as his pen. We spent the ride talking about nibs, feathering. bleeding, and paper, me nodding in quiet approval all the while not having a first clue about most of it. I left knowing one thing with certainty: fountain pens brought my friend joy. Not the Marie Kondo thank-your-puffy-shirt-for-the-memories variety, but kind that leaves your heart wide, yet safe. The feeling of knowing that no one can take the sky from you.
He left my office and I slowly pulled the blue one out of the bag. I placed the cartridge carefully into the feed, and screwed the barrel back in place. I waited in silence for the ink to fill the nib and took my first tentative scribbles on a neon green post-it. Smiling to myself, I placed the pen on my favourite orange note-book and went back to work.
That visit was almost three years ago. The two Platinum Preppies have expanded to a healthy collection of pens of various colours and price points, and I can now hold my own in conversations about the merits of medium and fine point nibs, and all things feeds and cartridges. One might even say I’ve been converted. And, although there is nothing quite like the feeling of a newly inked pen taking its rightful place at the top of a fresh new page, or the watching the swirl of smooth lines as they connect the dots in my bullet journal, I think my love of fountain pens is more about sentiment than instrument. For this, I offer no apologies. With my work laptop often feeling like an extension of my fingers, rediscovering the simple joy of writing a thank you note has been an important balm to loneliness. What’s more: I rarely make a weekend grocery list without thinking of my friend, whose small act of kindness is still making a mark on my life, often in shades of deep magenta or crisp forest green.
We all need to find our own strategies for countering scarcity with joy, and for creating secure and beautiful lines of connection to ourselves and to those we care about. And sometimes, if we are really lucky, the answers are right at our fingertips.