one month more: thirty-seven
three years more: forty
In my early twenties, I participated in a few postcard trading communities and wrote some people more consistently when there was a back and forth exchange. I loved sending and receiving postcards and would write wall to wall scrawl most of the times and mail them out in batches. Again, it made me feel less alone. I wasn't living on a farm anymore but was in a village (with the factory located on the edge of town) and those were some difficult years health-wise. Postcard writing was a great way to connect with others and to have something tangible to hold. It was also a time where I discovered the world of zines and zinesters and although I didn't send out much mail in that world (though I really should have - zinesters are the best snail mail writers!) I also loved the wonder of others who loved creating paper writings of various kinds and sending them to strangers.
Since most of my pen pal years were with people I knew and then later years were mostly postcards exchanged with people I didn't, I did not meet anyone new except for in a couple of cases - or maybe it was just one? I met a good friend who I had written postcards with and eventually we met since we lived in the same area. I've been fortunate for her friendship and if I glance up at my postcard wall at this very moment, I can see the countless postcards received from her over a decade scattered throughout the display. We don't write as often these days but even now, a postcard will pass between us and seeing the familiar penmanship is immediately familiar and comforting to me.
I've been lucky enough to have friends or online acquaintances send me letters, cards and postcards throughout the years. There are times when people have reached out and written me such beautiful things and I haven't been able to return to the favour. This is not the way to be a good pen pal / friend / snail mail person. I can give excuses like "real life" and "lack of concentration and/or motivation" or "bouts of depression" or "debilitating anxiety" or "so behind with my stack of unanswered mail that I feel too guilty and overwhelmed to know where to begin in writing people back" but these excuses don't make it right. (or make me write)
Even with that being the case, I am still thankful and grateful for the kindness people have shown throughout my life in the world of pen pal or snail mail writing. On this computer desk I have some blank postcards ready to go for people alongside more recent mail that I've received and I hope that I don't let too much time go by before I finally send something out there. Ideas come to me for people I've known through the internet (or who were old friends) of items I'd like to send to them or of cards I would want to write but I am often distracted by whatever else is going on and time gets away from me. More thoughtful and follow-through type people have probably felt frustrated and slighted by people like me. People like me being those who want to do ALL THE THINGS and so do NONE of the things.
If I ever was to take a walk down old letters and postcards lane, I'm sure to feel the ouch more than once as I see each time I let a good friendship or writing exchange die off. It could have changed a lot for me in terms of people who would be more a part of my life if I had continued writing them throughout the years into the Facebook era instead of losing touch along the way, only to reconnect in a much more distant / surface level way on Facebook, where clicking 'Like' to a Facebook status doesn't feel the same at all like opening a personal letter, sharing your actual lives, being real life friends and having something that is still tangible.
To those I've had words with over the years, thank you so much.
amber dawn (goldmourn)