A couple of weeks ago, B did a post on random things - interesting links and websites that she'd run across. One of them was http://www.postcrossing.com/. I checked out the website and was immediately hooked.
I love the idea of receiving postcards in the mail from all over the world. We see and hear everyday of all the ugly, hateful acts of people. I find it so reassuring to know that there are many, many decent and interesting people in the world - people who want to reach out and have a brief dialogue with someone half a world away and share a 4 inch by 6 inch glimpse of a beautiful place or thing.
And in a way, it made me rather nostalgic. I had a pen pal from Peru when I was in grade school (I wonder whatever happened to those letters?). And I also collected stamps when I was in school. Grandma G. would always send me letters, and in them she would include an envelope, or a corner torn off an envelope, with some special stamp, some miniature work of art, often in a language that I couldn't read. And that made it all the more fascinating. She received letters from all over the world. I don't remember how she wound up with them; it might have been that she had friends that traveled and wrote to her from their faraway destinations. (Yes, I still have my stamps.)
I also remember saving my allowance and going to a particular drug store that sold foreign postage stamps in those little glassine envelopes. It was always so hard to choose - I would go in wanting a stamp from a particular country, but there would be some other stamp with some magnificent dragonfly, or an exotic geisha, that would catch my eye, and then I would have to choose.
So I joined Postcrossing. And it's been so much fun. The very first card I sent was to a woman in Finland, and on the card I included a note and told her that hers was the very first card I was sending. She didn't have to, but she mailed me a couple of cards in return.
And the very first card I received was from Finland (there are a lot of postcrossers in Finland!).
Last week I had a message on my answering machine one evening when I got home from work. A card that had been addressed to me had been delivered to another lady across town instead. She was sweet enough to look me up in the phone book and call me so that I could go pick up the card, which I did. It was from Germany.
I also received a card from China. It included a note, but was written in Chinese. I happened to Twitter about it, and later got a reply from Kiki, whose blog The Prosecco Life is one that I read regularly. Kiki is working on her Ph.D. in Chinese art history and, you guessed it, speaks Chinese! She offered to translate it for me if I scanned it and sent it to her. I just did that yesterday and am awaiting her reply.
Participating in Postcrossing has also led me on a quest for beautiful postcards. I've bought some locally, of course. But I've also happened across some photographers' blogs - Susannah Conway and Tricia McKellar so far - who've used their photos to create beautiful postcards. And I've ordered some. (I am worried now, though, that I'll have to keep them and won't be able to part with them!)
So you see, it really is a small world. If I can drop a little piece of cardboard in a box with thousands, maybe millions, of other little pieces of glossy paper and cardboard, and it can travel 10,000 kilometers around the world and actually reach the person for which it was intended, that's something!
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