On a warm morning in Chicago, I’m walking around Logan Square—north of the city—looking for a blue postal box.
I have a handful of postcards to send to friends.
It’s getting harder to find postcards, perhaps because there’s less demand in the era of email and texting.
Still, you can manage to find a revolving postcard rack at tourist shops in Chicago, New York, London and Paris, but outside the cities, pickings are slim.
My grandmother kept all the postcards my mother wrote from trips to Moscow, Brussels, Abu Dhabi, Rome, Cairo, Kuwait, Tokyo and Pawhuska, Oklahoma.
Whether she just landed in Miami to buy a Volkswagen bus and camp across the United States, or she nipped over to Bruges to make crayon and paper-rubbings of ancient brass plaques, my mother sent her mama a postcard.
This was my mother’s way of keeping in touch with family who live miles away while she kept home in Europe and the Middle East.
I finally find a mailbox on North Milwaukee Street, but it’s been painted black and covered with graffiti, posters and stickers.
Is the letterbox bona fide? I wonder.
I’m holding postcards with photos of Chicago’s zoo: apes and monkeys and zebras and tigers, with sweet notes to pals about the weather.
Postcards are like Christmas cards.
We send holiday greetings to keep in touch with folks in our hearts but separated by oceans and mountains.
Postcards serve the same purpose: letting someone know you’re thinking of him or her.
When I teach writing to college students I ask them to craft a postcard note as an exercise in brevity: can you make a message informative and intriguing in one sentence?
I keep walking, now with the hope of finding a less bruised-looking letterbox.
Right in the heart of Logan Square I spy another, this one more blue than black, and splattered with spray-paint and graffiti.
I take a breath and a leap of faith, and slip my postcards into the blue maw.
8 August 2017