Postcard. For a few years in my early twenties, there were a lot of postcards in my life. Written, sent, received, read, stuck on the wall of my dorm room, tucked between pages as bookmarks. When I was travelling in Europe as a university student, postcards were a cheap souvenir and writing them a good excuse to sit on a bench near the bird sellers along Las Ramblas in Barcelona or on the steps of the Paris Opera with bread and pigeons and send a short message faraway. The thrill of buying foreign postage, figuring out the details of yet another currency in yet another country, and the sound of the card as it dropped in the postbox and the squeak of the metal slot closing after it were all a part of the ritual of sending these little flying carpets.
You could send a postcard to your family to say hello and that you were safe and happy. They traced your steps through different lands with a time lag that sometimes meant you made it home before the postcard got to their hands. You could send a postcard to someone you knew only glancingly and wanted to know better, wanted their attention, but didn’t want to risk the intimacy of a written, sealed letter. Flirtation by postcard can tell some good love stories, I’m sure.
Once I had a friend who was famous among us for his postcards. He seemed to get interesting summer jobs all over the country and made a point of visiting local attractions and sending us postcards. The images were always stunning and the back provided just enough space for one philosophical thought. I liked these tiny bits of metaphysics. Eventually, we had a falling out – this kind of thing happens – and the postcards stopped. I have no idea what has happened to all those postcards I already had.