I’m currently in London for little reason other than I wanted Mexican food and pho. But as I generally do when I’m on the road, I bought a few postcards and have been writing them whenever I stop for a meal or coffee. See, I’ve learned that sending postcards is one of the highest returns on investment I can get. In London, depending on where I get the postcard (four for £1 in the newsagent, or one for £1.05 at the airport), it costs me about $2 to send a postcard back to the States. But as I’m writing the postcard, the recipient is at the forefront of my mind and, well, quoting Dickens from Christmas Carol…
…and had remembered those he cared for at a distance, and had known that they delighted to remember him.
And maybe that’s it. When I sit in a Starbucks or my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Holborn, and write a postcard to somebody, that person is kinda sitting at the table with me. I imagine him or her finding the postcard in the mail – and let’s face it, that’s what you’re going to notice among the various bills and things – and stopping to look at the picture and read the few lines I wrote. So we make a connection – just separated in time.
I’m also touched – to the point of verklempt – when I see my postcards (or even pictures of them) magneted to refrigerators or tacked to bulletin boards. With electronic everything these days, the mailbox is often little more than junk – even the bills we used to get now arrive electronically. A postcard is a word from a different place, perhaps even from a different time, when that was how people communicated.
It is not my wont to give advice here, but if you’re on the road (or if you’re not), buy a postcard and a stamp; send it to somebody you care about. You’ll likely not make a better investment of money or time that day.
P.S. If you’re on the road, send a postcard to yourself at home. My friend and colleague Nicole Atkinson suggested that as a way of building a scrapbook of travel memories. It’s now the first card I send when I’m away.