Letters

Are you the romantic type looking for ways to battle the global migration into virtual space? Or maybe you’re just an admirer of old school who aims to remind everyone that the things that are now virtual used to be real in the past? Could it be that you’re simply tempted by an idea of cheering up someone who lives far far away? Then we’ve got an offer that you’re going to find pretty exciting!

When I was little, I would stick my nose everywhere I should and I shouldn’t: I once opened my grandma’s drawer and found a huge stack of envelopes. The whole drawer was full of hand-written letters! Letters from the USA, from Lithuanian towns and villages… At the time I wasn’t that good at reading, but I felt fascinated with the edges of the envelopes that were decorated with red and blue stripes as well as ink that had spread over the paper. The romance of the past excited me to the core.

Letter

However, let’s get back to the offer I mentioned at the beginning. One Portuguese guy called Paulo Magalhães didn’t find it satisfactory enough to merely keep memories of the real letters from the past, so he created an intriguing postcard project – Postcrossing. Everyone who signs up on Paulo’s website can get a postcard from a stranger living in any distant corner of the world: from the USA to the islands of Tuvalu (and only Vatican is smaller than this country – meanwhile, both take part in the project). Postcrossing was started back in 2005 and still operates at full capacity now, with ten years behind its back, and the number of members is constantly increasing!

The adventure triggered my curiosity, so I:

  • Opened an account at postcrossing.com.
  • Created a profile introducing myself and revealing all of my devastating soft spots.
  • Clicked on Send a postcard in the left corner of the site and got a few addresses.
  • Went through the addressees’ profiles: a chocolate worshipper, a designer, a kitten enthusiast, a collector of antique postcards, a fisherman… By the way, it’s quite a heroic act to find a postcard that complies with the addressee’s needs.
  • Eventually marked the postcards with system-suggested ID-codes. (This step of the process is extremely important, otherwise you’re not getting signed up. It would be a great shame to screw the whole effort up.)
  • Went to the closest post office, bought some stamps and inserted the postcards into a mailbox.
  • Waited for the postcards to travel 100 or 700 kilometers. By air and land. A part of my addressees were granted a modest message in a postcard, while some others, I confess, must have been happy enough to receive a thick envelope with a three-page letter. For the fisherman – of course.Mailbox

Since the moment I entered my name on the website I’ve been checking my mailbox nearly every day. The most surprising thing is that at least once a month I find a postcard with an image of Audrey Hepburn or advice on good movies to watch. I must admit – without a kick in the ass I would have hardly ever seen Gone with the Wind (1939) or fallen in love with Clark Gable (the improved version of George Clooney)…

By the way, you will get as many postcards as you send out yourself. It’s about time to decide how often you wish to get a spontaneous smile on your face when you open a mailbox and – surprise! – instead of a new IKEA catalogue there’s something of a much greater value.

To make it simple, Postcrossing is just a tool for romanticizing memories. The real romance is to be cherished yourself. Who knows, maybe one day your grandchildren will secretly rummage through your drawers and hit on a bunch of intriguing letters from strangers.

P.S. Still waiting for the fisherman’s reply…

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