Friday, January 24, 2014
I got a postcard in the mail yesterday. Even more surprising, it was from two millennials.Although we are besties, I didn’t expect any postcards during their six-month trek around the world. After all, there’s Facebook and Instagram and e-mail.
Now, back in the day before the Internet (I date myself), people sent postcards all the time, particularly when traveling abroad. Perhaps they just wanted to share a special place with a friend. Perhaps bragging rights were involved. Whatever the motive, posting a picture card was de rigueur. Travelers looked forward to the process of postcard penning. It always started with the search for the perfect image. Next was the decision of where to put down the prose. When in Rome, should one sit on the Spanish Steps or opt to write next to the Trevi Fountain? In Moscow, should one plunk oneself down in the middle of Red Square or write while dining at a cafe?
And what about the stamp? Where would one buy it? Who or what was on the stamp? Was it a current head of state? Was it a national monument or symbol? What did that subject say about the country?
The pleasure of the postcard was a gift for both giver and recipient alike. Even if an image of the soaring Swiss Alps or the minarets of Marrakesh inspired the pull of envy, the billet-doux was still likely to be posted on the recipient's refrigerator via a strong magnet.
In this day and age when trips are chronicled minute by minute on Facebook and Twitter, and when selfies and personal photos are uploaded the moment they are taken, it might seem that sending a postcard is an anachronism. Perhaps it is. And perhaps that’s why I was particularly delighted when I opened my mailbox this morning to discover a postcard. It was a picture of Pagan, Burma, accompanied by a note from my millennial friends Emily and Patton. I was thrilled, touched, and inspired in a way that a Facebook post could never replicate.
Let’s start an experiment, shall we? On your next trip overseas, send half a dozen postcards to unsuspecting recipients. Send one to me, too (PO Box 9444, Washington, DC 20016). You can bet your recipients will be tickled, and you may be delighted to discover the lost art of postcard writing.