What do Norway, Germany, England and France all have in common? Well obviously plenty of things but if you guessed their respective mail services having to deal with deciphering my atrocious handwriting, then well….you’d be correct and you would also have to be a mind reader I think.
I took the last month off from posting anything on here to devote effort to other things and also to just give myself a little time off- it might not look it but a good bit of time and effort goes into these, mainly cause I firmly believe if you’re gonna do something, do it well (or are well as you can). Part of the “other things” I was doing was catching up with friends and my snail mail, making sure I was still set on heading to Europe for two weeks at the end of September and surviving the onset of the devils season in Texas (aka Summer).
Snailmailing is something that has been a love of mine since I was 17 and actually the biggest reason I got into traveling and being more curious about the world around me. Only a few of the people I met during that first foray into penpalling are still around and while i’ve learned how easy and subsequently painful it can be to lose touch with people you’ve grown close to through letters, it’s still a thing I enjoy greatly. If anything, snailmailing and having penpals I can send postcards to and exchange travel stories with still remains a big motivator for those days when I’m so tired from work and trying to plan an epic trip and all I can think of is “gods, I wish I could just take two weeks off to be a couch potato“. These days especially with how stressful work can be, knowing I have a friend in Germany who will recommend me some amazing places to visit or another in Paris who’ll help me feel like less of a tourist in one of the most visited cities on earth, it helps to keep the wanderlust alive.
And if sometimes I end up sending people a weird art piece, a pizza pin or a t-shirt with a Texas state outline on it in addition to something I picked up for them on my travels? Well, i’ve gotten no complaints so far.
I try and get out there, travel as much as I can when I can and if you combine that with the type of personality that loves to hoard things of little to no value, you end up with a person who’s got a stash of postcards and travel trinkets that could rival a gift shop.
Thankfully though, for both my house storage capacity and my friendships, I love sending and sharing all the travel ephemera i’ve picked up. So sometimes when i’m writing to a friend who suffers from the occasional bout of wanderlust that I do, I might stuff 1 or 2 (or 10) postcards into the box and send it on it’s merry way. And then add a magnet or keychain, maybe a cool rock or leaf. I like to think of myself as an intelligent, mature near-adult but when i’m sitting on my office floor surrounded by postcards and bits of tape stuck on my pjs, trying to decide what sea shell to send on the basis of which one seems prettier, I gotta admit I’ve probably still got years to go.
Its definitely worth it though, both when I’m reliving the memories of trips past and when I hear back from a friend who got inspired to visit somewhere I sent them a postcard from.
(Fun fact- the place I have the least postcards from is actually my current home state, Texas.)
I’ve been snailmailing for about oh….8 years now? Its something I used to do with fervent frequency, dashing out letters almost everyday to friends far and wide, some just a couple of counties away from mine back in California. These days though, i’m lucky if I get the time to write out one a month.
Thats not necessarily a bad thing though. Before I might have had more time to devote to spilling out words on page after page and flinging them thoughtlessly halfway across the globe to anyone friendly enough, but these days my time is constrained to the point where I only devote the effort on people who mean enough for me to craft responses with more care and deliberation. Theres something about putting pen to paper that slows down your thoughts, presses them onto the pages with care and finding people who enjoy doing that as much as you do and getting to know them through this medium can be one of the loveliest experiences.
This particular letter was actually crafted and sent on it’s way months ago but I hadn’t had a chance to share it till now, given all the travel posts I’d been doing. A good friend from the UK had mailed his first letter to me after months of sharing words online and it was eloquent and very lovely. For my response, I decided to shove eloquence to the side and burst forth with paper and what ended up being almost it’s own kind of art piece. While the years might have taught me restraint with words, apparently I still have no chill when it comes to paper and all you can do with it. But considering i’m just finishing up another letter to send out to him this week, thats probably not such a bad thing, all things considered.
So while I might have taken a break from my art journal posts ( at least on here, i’ve been reposting a couple of sets on tumblr that have turned out surprisingly popular) i’m wouldn’t be myself unless I was filling up pages in some way or another.
I’ve had this particular journal for over 2 years now, and let me just say, apparently it has been a messy couple of years. I spent the afternoon going through the pages and I can honestly say at times I just sat there, reading lyrics or lines of poetry, thinking, “wow, thats some seriously crazy overdramatic overtures of emotion right there.” Thing is, I either get clinically cold or failingly messy when i’m emotional and…. while I might not express much emotion in public or even in private, it almost certainly gets dripped and splashed all over these pages with hearty abandon.
Reaching the end of available space in this journal makes my heart clench a little, the idea of letting go of so much emotion and starting over again in a crisp, new notebook that doesn’t know the ups or downs of my emotions intimately, it even makes me panic a little. Truth is though, when push comes to shove, at the end of the day I fall towards logic more than most any emotion, so I know i’ll bend soon and go buy a new journal, start a new story.
For the meantime though, I still have at least a dozen pages to fill, and I think it’ll be nice to fill up some thoughts in there that will maybe not toss and turn all over the lines with so much emotional upheaval. Either way though, whether i’m gutting the pages with words or neatly printing lines of concise characters, it’s seen me through some tough and trying times, interesting waves and crashing journeys and I can only really try my best to look forward to what i’ll be filling up the next one with.
Camera in hand, lights turned off except for the tiny blazing bulbs of small moons cascading down my shelves. Something about it all reminds me of the 90’s, in an abstract sort of way. Memories of ice cream cones at Central Park in the time before cell phones, Seinfeld playing in the background of summer bar-b-ques, car rides with Savage Garden playing on repeat, humid summers running around under fire hydrant water sprays in Queens, and tiny plastic butterfly clips in my hair. The millennium came and went but the 90’s still live on in tiny spaces of time, behind postcards and underneath low lights.