31-Day Challenge: Day 24

Write about the places featured on postcards you’ve received in the mail.

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We have a little shelf space in front of our stereo where we always put the postcards we’ve gotten recently in the mail. I’m a big fan of both sending and getting postcards, although sometimes I am much better at writing them, than actually getting them in the mail. BV on the other hand, is extremely organized, with an excel spreadsheet of addresses for just such an occasion. The only flaw in the plan is that sometimes those addresses are not correct. We discovered this when once again, his mom did not receive the postcard we sent her from Ireland, and he learned that he was about three numbers off on the address. In a small town it would probably slide by and end up in the right place (my parents have a notoriously tricky address to spell), but her street is apartment block after apartment block.

I think my fascination with postcards goes back a long ways, as I remember my great-grandma Merry (of the aforementioned Norwegian heritage) having a whole photo album filled with postcards that she’d received over the years. Some were from nearby, some where from much more far-flung places, but they had all found their way to her, and to this little album. One of these days I might do the same thing, and start filing ours away.

My grandparents also sent postcards from their vacations almost religiously. The messages were mostly about what they did that day, and always included the weather. Not that there was much variation in Florida temperatures, but it was good to have the reassurance that everything was in order.

At our house the moment there’s a bit of a mix on display, as well as stacked up on top of the stereo. There are two wedding invitations, one that has passed, and one that is yet to come. There are two thank-you cards from last year’s wedding celebrations. There’s a birth announcement as well as a photo Christmas card.

There’s a blank postcard from Salzburg, which was hand-delivered by a friend of mine who knows of my eternal love for the most perfect city on the river. Another postcard comes from Reit im Winkl, from our Airbnb host that we’ve visited a few times now. Apparently once you’ve passed a certain visit number, you get a Christmas card as well as a summer favor. Can’t go wrong there.

Another postcard celebrates the German-Austrian border, and came from BV’s parents last summer. Yet another shows a cairn, and came from not so far away in the Oberpfalz. That one came from the Gardeners, who know of BV’s enthusiasm for stones. Our postcard from them last year was from somewhere around the Baltic Sea, and simply showed the smooth stones found on the beaches there.

Somewhere in the office, hastily moved away in the last rounds of pre-Christmas cleaning, are postcards from Africa, from the Mediterranean, from Asia. We have some well-traveled friends. I also tend to collect postcards from places, sometimes just to get those shots that it’s nearly impossible to get yourself. I’ve bought postcards from the Trinity College Library, and other places where taking pictures are prohibited.

Two of the best things that I’ve acquired in my years abroad are two vintage postcards. On a long, long, walk around the enormous Vienna flea market where my friend Cassie was hunting for gifts for her sprawling family, I happened to find these two beauties. Printed on heavy board and dating from the turn of the century, one pictures the Powder Tower in Prague, and one pictures the Opera House. Though I was still living in the Golden City at that time, I knew that these would be treasures to me long after I had moved on. On my list of things to do this year is to get them in frames. Practically speaking, vintage postcards do not fit in any off-the-shelf frames, so that’s a project to figure out exactly how to display them.

Postcards are incredibly simple, but such a bright light sometimes. There’s nothing cheerier than opening the mailbox to find a quick note from a far away place. When cleaning through my childhood bedroom over Christmas, I found quite a few that had made their way into the folds of books and corners of drawers. Most of them were ones from my grandparents on those frequent trips to Florida. I was okay with saying goodbye to a lot of things from that old room, but many of those postcards went into the boxes of things that are to be kept. For what, I’m not sure. But, for now it doesn’t matter.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

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2 thoughts on “31-Day Challenge: Day 24

  1. I’m a postcard lover, too! I buy them wherever I go and have done so since I was a teenager. Every year I get for Christmas a weekly postcard calendar, and this year’s theme is owls. I write to my adult children on these postcards – 3 fit into an envelope for the price of one stamp! 🙂 They can make good visuals for language class, too – I have my students pick a card and name everything they see on it, looking up unknown words.

    • Such a sweet idea to send them to your kids all the time like that! Getting anything in the mail that isn’t a bill is such a treat these days. Great idea to use them in class, too! I tend to hoard different city maps for things like practicing directions with beginners, but that’s such a fun idea for vocabulary. 🙂

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