The Postcard Project

My summer of puttering around the house has led to several hands-on projects, some involving a hammer and nails, one (nearly abandoned) involving yarn and knitting needles, and a few other collage-type endeavors involving scissors and tape. My favorite, and most sentimental, of the projects dealt with twine, paper clips, velco strips and a few intercontinental trips: a postcard chain, draped across the kitchen windows! (With our courtyard’s palm tree as a backdrop, I simply must add.)

I know my handiwork isn’t much to look at. But reminders of friends, family and all these world-wide experiences make doing the dishes a real treat and give a globe-trotting feel to the kitchen and everything we cook in it.

I first got the postcard chain idea from Real Simple. But my local grocer didn’t have old-school clothespins, as the magazine suggested using, so I improvised with paper clips and hanging-down twine to give the staggered effect.

The only drawback of the postcard assembly line is that the sun’s shining directly on the actual notes on the backs of the postcards. So in an effort to not lose them forever, I’ll reproduce them here, starting from the young-buck days and working up to the here-and-now.


From Erin D. in San Diego (June 3, 2003 – the day before my birthday and no shout-out?!):

I wanted to say that I like how we’ve become book-sharing friends, in a way. Maybe someday we will found a book club. I hope so anyway. In any event, traveling rocks. Isn’t it strange that Jersey Deuce’s Pish [the trio of Erin, our friend Kristin and me] will be all over the place this summer? Okay, here’s the expected part – I’m in S. Cali near my hometown of San Diego, where we’ll camp tonight. It’s wonderful. I feel at home.
LOVE, Erin

[I remember Erin telling me about Everything is Illuminated that summer. It remains one of my favorites; who knows what-all I suggested in return. In any event, we did found a book club…only took us 6 years to do it.]


From Abby M. in Valencia (March 26, 2004):

Dearest Mary,
Helloo, my dear! I hope things are smooth yet inspiring in your neck of the woods. I’m finding Spain quite an intriguing place. Madrid is a hoppin’ place that’s always available accessible, as long as your energy lasts, which is sometimes not very long! Fortunately that’s a renewable resource which I like to recharge during times like these (late afternoon) with a nice long SIESTA. But during the week my class schedule is very busy – I’m taking 3 lit courses (mostly short stories), 2 film (I’m auditing), 1 language and 1 Art History. I like them all, but my fave is one of the film, b/c I’m in love with the teach, he’s short and chubby stocky and sort of feminine and uses lots of funny colloquial words. A movie you should try to find and watch: El Espiritu de la Colmena (the spirit of the beehive) by Victor Erice, it’s very beautiful.
Love you lots,
Abigail ❤ ❤ Peace sign.
P.S. The Shins are coming to Madrid April 2!

[Abby and I are kindred spirits in that we both use a lot of adjectives and have very small handwriting. She fit all this into a standard postcard. She’s incredible and a lovely friend, as I’m sure radiates through her writing.]


Again from my dear friend Erin D., writing from India (can’t read the postmark – May 2004?):

Dear Mary,
Here’s a good one for your wall. I bought a pack of naturey postcards of Tibet in Lhasa and somehow this one of naked meditators was included. I saw some amazing stuff in Tibet, but no naked meditators. Now I’m in India and am about to go to Nepal to finish up my semester abroad. And then I’ll be off to travel around India by myself (+ maybe with my other friend Mary!) for a month. Hope to see you soon.
Love, Erin


From lacrosse teammates and friends Katrina M. and Laurie M. in Florence (August 2004):

Dear Mary,
When we saw this we immediately thought of you. He’s just your type.
Actually we really saw the sculpture and it was amazing. Just like you.
Italy is awesome. We’re driving the Italian men crazy.
Love, Kat + Laurie

[The postcard is a picture of David, obvs. I miss passing notes in class with these chicks.]


From my parents, writing from the San Diego Zoo (March 2007):

(Dad’s portion) We just spoke on the phone. I hope it warms up by the time you get this. Congrats on staying off carbs. See you soon. Love, Dad
(Mom’s portion) Hi Mary- Giraffes are cool. Nice talking to you just now. I miss you. Love, Mom


From Rawle’s sister Crista in Interlaken (July 9, 2008):

Hi Rawle!
Went to Heidiland today. Also visited Liechtenstein (4th smallest country in Europe) and saw Germany and Austria from afar. Went to medieval town in France. My favorite was Geneva and paragliding. Also went to highest peak in Switz, it was snowing and James Bond filmed there!
Miss you! Crista

From Lesley S. in San Francisco (September 2009 – foreshadowing, part I):

Rawle and Mary Time,
Omg, I love SF! I went to Alcatraz and sat on a prison cell toilet, biked the GG bridge, went to the symphony, visited almost every city park. SF > Philadelphia. Miss ya much, Plasma.
❤ Lesley

[Upon receiving this postcard, Rawle and I were slightly offended by the SF-Philadelphia comparison. Now that we’ve moved here, I won’t say that she was right, but I won’t say she was wrong, either. “Plasma” and “Mary Time” are both supposed to be me.]


From Rawle’s dad, writing from San Francisco while visiting Rawle’s brother, Seth (October 2009 – foreshadowing, part II):
Dear Rawle,
Spent two days with Seth in Berkeley. Up in Tahoe tonight with 32° with 55° highs. Back to SAC tomorrow and to Berkeley next Tuesday for our last dinner with Seth.
See you soon, Dad


More from Lesley S., writing from Chile (February 2010):

Rawle and M. Time,
¿What’s happenin? Check out Pablo Neruda’s Art Therapy Post(card). I think I bought my first book of poetry today. I am nearing the end of my travels, and I may beat this postcard home. We were in Buenos Aires and visited La Casa Rosada, I think where Juan Peron and Evita Peron lived. I know you don’t speak Spanish but otherwise you would love it here.
❤ Lan-Ann Ann Lan Time!


One last entry from Lesley S., in Ireland (June 2010):

Well hello M-time,
It just so happened Pat and I visited Cohn (Queenstown), Ireland which was the last port of call for the Titanic. There was a great ocean liner museum in this town. I am sitting in a hotel lobby with a slight flu whil Pat is watching the World Cup Finals. Go Holland! I hope all is well in San Fran. Also, my brother is engaged. Hi Rawle!
<3, Lan
P.S. Also did you know, a few months after the Titanic accident another cruise liner was bombed by Germans?

[I’ve been obsessed with the Titanic since I was 8. The onset of my obsession far preceded the movie, though I refuse to change it if it’s ever on. Maybe I’ll write about my Titanic fascination someday. It will be my magnum opus.]


So there they are, my postal peeks into the past.

The more I experience California, the less staunchly East Coast I feel. But full acclimation is no longer the goal; this new life is instead breeding a thirst for travel — to islands (Aruba 2011 – it’s on!), to Santa Cruz (Labor Day 2010 – it happened!), even to the next neighborhood over. If we can be California boys and girls, what else can we be? Where else can we go?

And so, the postcards. With these daily doses of Spain, Italy, India, Ireland, Chile, Switzerland and even Southern California, we’re reminded to always think bigger.

And to be able to, by reading their words, hear my friends’ 20-year-old voices again — well, that’s a trip.


3 Responses

  1. i love this post mary. and that you added the text from the cards…i especially liked lesley’s from chile, of course. hope you keep posting such great stuff!

  2. Hey Mary-
    Great idea!!! It looks so cool. Thanks for including me!!

  3. Hi Mary, this is great! Maybe it’s time to send you a postcard from Philly!

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