April 1962 ~ Versailles, France
4 postcards = $1.00
4 airmail stamps (.65/ea) = $2.60
July 2022 ~ Somewhere along a rural midwestern postal route
4 postcards = $4.00
4 international stamps ($1.40/ea) = $5.60
I was originally going to call this space Letters From Elsewhere. I liked the air of mystique and vaguery around the word elsewhere and how it calls to mind visions of anywhere but where I am or where you, my darling reader, are right now. That’s what draws me to travel writing, I suppose. Being transported elsewhere.
I’ve been tempted lately, for example, to write about a trip I once took above the arctic circle in the middle of winter so as to transport myself to somewhere that isn’t 100°F right now. Maybe, soon. For now, though, I am sorting through my collection of postcards, my letters from elsewhere, taking my imagination on trips to lands as near as the next town over and as far away as Kazakhstan. These cards will serve as some beautiful decor in this new home of ours, adding pops of color and wanderlust to the walls.
I used to think most postcards were sent from people’s vacations so as to brag a little from the beautiful places they stumbled upon. (And trust me, I cannot wait for the day when I get to Easter Island — my dream since I was eight years old — and can send out cards to loved ones, rejoicing that I finally made it). But now I realize that if you receive a card from someone when they’re on vacation, or any time really, just think how special it is to have crossed their thoughts for more than a fleeting moment. Someone took the time to select and purchase a card and carefully write out a message to you.
Postcards, you see, are intentional on the writer’s end. A slow process that takes thought and time. A little meditation if you will. In this day and age of instant texts and emails, it’s rare that we get to know our friends by their penmanship or signature. I love handwriting so dearly and it’s just not the same to see a person’s signature written in the default font of digital communication. The swirls and swoops of one’s penned letters are so unique to an individual, in a way that Arial or Times New Roman will never be.
The historian in me also enjoys the markings on postcards, noting time and place and experience. Hand cancellations feel like little passport stamps. These tangible pieces of art and heart take incredible overland journeys, sometimes with a boat or plane ride thrown in the mix. It’s always a gamble as to how long it will take to reach its destination. Sometimes the ink runs in the rain or the corners get a little battered along the way. Once I even received a postcard that most definitely had a faint boot print on it. All this for an out-of-the-blue “hello,” a little surprise hug in the mail. A letter from elsewhere.