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February 23, 2017

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Postcards

February 23, 2017

Postcards are a funny constraint; one you can push as far as you can make your handwriting small. You have four or five sentences to convey how you are in a specific moment at a specific place to someone else who will read your words at a much later point in time in a place that may be far, far away from you. You’ve got a few inches to share a memory, but the postcard itself will become one, too.

 

Because postcards are a forever thing. Unlike, say, a Tweet, a postcard will be tucked away in a shoebox or put on a fridge or folded into a journal, because postcards are sentimental and physical and take time and effort to send. Because handwriting evokes a human hand, one that you have held. A postcard is rare, and as such is worthy of preservation. It may be saved so long that it outlasts the addressed, escaping the trash pile to end up in a second-hand store for someone else to decipher its thinning cursive. A postcard lasts, a small square of sentiment, time-stamped.

 

 

 

So how to write enduring ephemera? In writing your postcard, you may be tempted to follow the pattern of describing your location (for example, the beach), the weather (intermittent hail, rain, and sun), and your current mood (“fine”) and maybe an activity you recently did (took a long walk along the shore). But the chronological is trite. It’s harder, but I think more valuable, to share an idea, a dream, a memory, to use the precious space for a message that’s metaphysical instead of practical, to say something that can stir.

 

Here’s an attempt:

 

“Dearest,

 

I”ve been thinking about what we spoke of last night, changing your attitude or changing a situation. I think I usually choose the latter, and flee, when I can. It’s easier. But it’s a pattern that repeats, and has no end. I would like to try and build my own power, to stay stable and growing even in tumult. I suppose will keep trying. But it can’t be denied that some time away lends a fresh perspective upon a return.”

 

If you start writing now, you’ll have many more chances to get it right. That’s what I tell myself, anyways.

 

 

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