Monday, June 22, 2009

It's a Small World

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 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!


  1. So much fun! I haven't started yet! I'm so disorganized!

  2. What fun! That POSTCROSSING sounds like something for me too. When I was young I was fascinated by other places, other language, collected stamps... I've always loved letter writing. I've had pen friends from various places over the years, one in England I've been in contact with for soon 20 yrs! Email, blogging, Tweeting, etc are great ways to keeping in contact. But there is still something magical about receiving a card or letter in the mail that technology simply can't replace. Wonder where your next card while come from? Happy Day, Janet! :o)

  3. B - get started girl! e-mail me your address and I'll send you one from Arizona.

    Tracy - we have a lot in common. I'm a tactile person-i love/need to touch things. holding an actual card or letter is so much more special than an e-mail. and ditto for you. if you e-mail me your address, I'll send you something.

    happy day girls!

  4. Great idea! I think we are all a lot more tactile than we think. you can learn a lot about someone by 'touching' and seeing their handwriting.

    BTW, I tagged you in my 5 Random Things, seems to be going around. If you haven't already done it, it would be fun to read about you.

    Happy Day!

  5. Oh Janet, this was the perfect ending to my day. All the kind words from everyone lifted my spirits, but your post made me excited. I'm joining postcrossings right away!

    Like you I loved collecting stamps as a child and I haven't thought of those glassine envelopes in years (I still remember loving the crackling sound they made).

    This was a wonderful and rich post. Thank you!

  6. Liz, you'll love it! funny how a little postcard can brighten your day so much! if you e-mail me your address, i'll send you one too!

  7. that's really cool! i'm going to check that out! it is really nice to think there are decent, interesting people out there in the world in times like these!


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