February 21, 2015

Across the World

Since joining Postcrossing, an international postcard-swapping project, my mailbox has been overflowing with love. Postcards in all shapes and sizes have found me every month. Sometimes I read them together with Ifo and admire the photos, often chatting about the differences in the cultures between the sender and myself.

Since January 2013, when I sent my first postcard to New York, I've sent 31 cards to Postcrossing members in 24 countries and received more than 40 in return. They come from Netherlands, South Africa, Ukraine, Finland, Germany, Canada, Romania, and dozens of other places.

And each carries just a little piece of the sender. While I love the photos, what I love best is actually reading the words scrawled on each. The handwriting completely fascinates me; curly, somber, precise, delicate. I love learning about the lives of people in far-flung places; places I've never seen and may never see. Members usually have a short "about me" section on their profile, and I can't count the number of times I read about someone else's interests and think, "Hey! Me too!"

People are readers. And writers. They're photographers and music lovers and daughters. They're parents and boyfriends, travelers and dreamers. They have ambitions. And so many of them tell you about their dreams, things that might be easier to share with me, a stranger, than someone they love.

There's a sort of magic through the shared experiences, through knowing that the card in my hand, bent at the corners, once sat on the table or desk or lap of someone in a foreign nation. Someone wrote it out, forming letters meant only for me. And these cards traversed the globe to land right in my hands in Malaysia.

Though the hobby isn't exactly cheap, it's brought me so much joy. The cost of a postcard and international stamp (60 cents) doesn't bother me nearly as much as the idea of never seeing brightly-colored notes in my mailbox again.

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