One year ago, I sent a friend of more than 40 years a postcard featuring an image of an unusual grave marker in the Key West cemetery. On the card, I wrote about notable memories from the previous day. On the following 27 days, I repeated this exercise with other friends, family members, and former colleagues using the same postcard.
Every single day since then, I have written and mailed a postcard to a list of people that grew number 35. In each postcard, I recounted something I heard, saw, thought, or otherwise experienced the previous day. Some postcards were purchased as a tourist, but most featured my photographs. Why?
From my experience, friendship is easy to lose and hard to maintain. In my life, I have lost contact with far too many people for both understandable reasons and bad reasons. I was interested to learn if sharing what’s going on in my life – on a postcard, roughly once every five weeks for a year — would have an impact on our relationships.
As a result of retiring and living through the pandemic, I needed a creative outlet that would contribute discipline and structure to my days.
Writing about what happened “yesterday” became a spiritual exercise requiring reflection on how I am accounting for my life. I learned that even the mundane can carry unimagined complexities within.
Over the course of the year, I received 79 discrete responses from 22 of the 35 recipients.
One day I received one of my postcards back in the mail with the following message glued over my original to parody my efforts: “Yesterday—Ed traveled to another place and saw another thing. He took photographs. He drank Mountain Dew [sic]. He remembered movements from his past and tended to daily shores. He pondered what movement counted as exercised. He promised to send his friends photos dressed as a junior Navy cadet.” It was Diet Mountain Dew. The sender attempted anonymity, but I correctly guessed the prankster. Also, I fulfilled that promise in a subsequent postcard.
I received a postcard from a talented artist with an original drawing on it.
One recipient gifted me with 100 postcards featuring the work of the late fashion photographer Bill Cunningham.
I began to receive postcards from one recipient adorned with lovely, original watercolor paintings.
For one month, a recipient mirrored my practice in private and gave me the 30 postcards they had written as a Christmas gift (I was moved to tears).
A real estate deal was proposed (and ultimately consummated). I am not kidding.
My Wes Anderson/Last Postcard Celebration
Will There be More Postcards?
I have about 100 leftover, unused postcards. I am looking for ideas. Can you make any suggestions? Let me know.
2 thoughts on “About Those Postcards”
Number the postcards.
Tell a story one fabulous, image inducing sentence on each card, in order, and
Mail all 100 to The New Yorker, the Washington Post OpEd page or Rolling Stone magazine.
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I like this idea and am formulating ideas…