I forget how I came across Postcrossing but let me sum it up for you:
- First you sign up on the website. You’ll need to give it your address.
- Tell it you want to send a postcard. You’ll be given a serial number and an address to another user somewhere in the world.
- Send your postcard.
- Meanwhile, somebody else has also clicked ‘Send a Postcard’ and gets your address.
- Receive a postcard.
You get a lot of really neat postcards this way, like this one I got from Taiwan. It’s a really nice sumi style painting that I would otherwise probably never see. The writer in me really digs stuff like this. Just like imaging what stories might be occurring in people’s lives while I’m walking down the street (yes, I do this. Also while driving. People in cars are fascinating!) I love paintings like this because of all the potential. Then the artist in me starts looking at the picture too and now I’m looking at it from that angle. It’s like getting a little paper treasure in my mailbox. It’s always a pleasant surprise.
But the biggest surprise has been getting cards like this:
These are the sorts of postcards that everybody passes up on in the gift shop, thinking about how cheesy somebody must be to send one of these ‘home to the folks.’ Before Postcrossing I always wondered why they kept making them because surely they mustn’t sell many (comparatively, that is). Post-Postcrossing, I have a completely different outlook on them. They may not tickle my brain like paintings of Asian cities do, but when combined with a short paragraph on the back of the card giving some little but titillating personal or historical context, these cards take on a whole other dimension. Suddenly I want to learn about these places and, more importantly, I have a starting point. It’s one thing to read the Wiki page about Shönes Idar-Oberstein, it’s another to read about it as the “Town of Precious Stones” with a church built into the side of the mountain. None of that information was on the postcard (except there is a picture of the church).
I’ve always loved learning about the world at large, but Postcrossing has brought a new spontaneity to it, calling things to my attention that I would otherwise never have discovered. So, I wanted to share this with you, because I think we can all learn a little more about the world out there. Plus, sometimes you get cards like this: