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Confessions of an addict

September 22, 2010

It’s a desperate feeling that often sweeps over me when I’m wondering around a new place.  A desire so strong its uncontrollable and before I know it, I’m standing outside a shop spinning a stand looking for something to quell this urge inside of me.

This something can be in the form of a gadget that depicts where I am visiting like a key ring or pin,  but usually it’s a picture — be it a retro take on life or a creative composition. And then when I’ve found my visual hit I saunter over to a shady seat preferably with a view, and write these words — having a great time, wish you were here.

My name is Cate and I am a postcard addict.

I remember how the addiction began with a visit to London, I was mesmerised by pictures of men dressed in red and black wearing  furry hats, shiny gemstones set in crowns, and gaudy dressed folk from the East End. The vivid colours lured me into an old world I had touched upon in social studies classes at school.

Then Paris gave me visions of steel and glass, watercolours and oils that I couldn’t better with my tiny point and shoot Olympus. Greece offered up its blue seas and whitewashed churches only the way a postcard could do it. Behind Yugoslavia’s iron wall I was unable to shoot — with a camera — and had to go with postcards portraying a country with a false sense of security. All these experiences enabled my addiction.

Soon walls were crammed with palaces, flamenco dancers, bull fighters and country pubs. Landscapes tried to compete for space as golden beaches overlapped snowclad mountains and tranquil fields of poppies. Time gave way to torn edges and discoloration, but my pictures still remain pinned to the wall reminding me of where I’ve ventured as though I am an old lady clinging to my past when really all I want is visual stimulation.

by Cate

When postcards become “so last century”, I mourned for the loss of a once popular pastime that involved writing a few simple but succinct sentences to tie into the travel experience. Postcard writing was an art back then which hasn’t made it into the e-world of tweets, texts and email. Times have changed — omg I can’t believe I’m saying this.

In case you don’t know me, I am the one who stands in the souvenir shop spinning the squeaky card stand, I am the one who pulls dusty cards from holders giving them a new life. I am the one who seeks out stamps and airmail stickers hunting down the elusive post office.

I am the one who receives snickers from young backpackers and snide comments from embarrassed friends as I go on the prowl for another picture postcard buzz.

I am an addict.

Caffeinated Traveller

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23 Comments
  1. neilsharp permalink
    September 22, 2010 6:18 pm

    hi cate-a few years ago , one of our classmates would start out on his trek and would send most of us postcards from where he was headed and new things that really would interest all. it was kind of a little joke at first , but each year it would continue and really was neat looking forward to his plight. it all ended a few years prior and we miss them so very, very much, so keep up the postcards and you will be hearing about them in your future years. and besides, i am a retired mailman and remember those precious letters from loved ones in all kinds of situations. i even have some of my own stashed away for browsing from family after my finality.

    • September 23, 2010 11:32 am

      Neil this is a wonderful account of how postcards impact on our lives even if we are not the ones travelling. Time to bring out those old postcards as well!

  2. travelforaircraft permalink
    September 22, 2010 7:47 pm

    Wow … I recall getting postcards from my best friend sent from a number of countries he was sent for training … sometimes scribbled in the night while in a cargo aircraft, other times while having a cup of coffee at a cafe. Email may be faster and it has spell check … but it is not better than having a postman (like the lady in the comment above) deliver a 4″ x 6″ image of a travel destination.

    A wonderful post 🙂

    • September 23, 2010 11:31 am

      We all like getting stuff in the mail that isn’t asking for money.

  3. Catherine permalink
    September 22, 2010 10:30 pm

    join my campaign for Real Mail!! Yes I do emails and skype and blogging but I still write real letters and postcards too!! Great post

    • September 23, 2010 11:31 am

      YES!!!! I also send thank-you cards to people who have hosted me. Nothing like getting something handwritten even if you can’t read the handwriting.

  4. September 23, 2010 2:03 am

    I remember, during my very first trips overseas (AGES ago!) I used to send tons of postcards. I liked it but it became a sort of “obligation” like “If I send it to this I have to send it to that one too!”

    In addition, I refused to write the same thing in every postcard so I ended up spending a too big amount of time filling them all in. Finally, due to the huge volume, it was also a considerable amount of money.

    I started narrowing down the names and sending it only to “the most important” who were actually still too many, so I just stopped it. I have to say, sometimes I miss it, but it’s very unlikely I will start sending postcards again!

    • September 23, 2010 11:29 am

      That’s the problem with postcards, like Christmas cards it can become an obligation. I still send them to those who enjoy getting them. I used to send card to my best friend until one time I discovered they sat in her mail box — she never picked them up!

  5. September 23, 2010 3:50 pm

    Extraordinarily beautiful post Cate! I love it very much. My addiction is of a different nature – greeting cards! Also almost as extinct. I love the feeling of spending time in the bookstore searching for the perfect greeting card. Sometimes just reading through the lovely notes on cards makes me cry – in the bookstore!!!!! lol!!!

    Although I am not a fan of postcards, when I travel, that’s how I envision the photos that I take. As if I was to send it to someone by way of a postcard, and I can just scribble my little notes into the photo. When I got married, I have this dream of filling our entire refrigerator door with those tacky ref magnets of the different places we’ve been to. I am imagining 20, 30 years down the line, and we still have those…that would be really awesome to look back to and will remind us of those beautiful memories of those travels that we can share to our kids. I’m sure it’s the same feeling you have about your postcards.

    Beautiful beautiful post.

    • September 24, 2010 3:09 pm

      Ahhh the greeting card addict, just as dangerous as the notebook addict and the fridge magnet addict.

      Thanks for the lovely comment.
      Cate

  6. September 23, 2010 7:10 pm

    I rarely send postcard.

    As SMS is within a simple click, I do not think postcard can be even my favourite.

    But I can understand how you feel about it since we are an addict to different thing.

    • September 24, 2010 3:08 pm

      What did you use before SMS came about?

  7. September 26, 2010 3:03 pm

    I love the art of letter writing and have a whole collection of beautiful nutecards, address labels and stamps, much to the mystification of my family. Emails and tweets just can’t replace the hand-written note. I usually look at post cards on my travels to and when I see interesting ones, I buy them and keep them with the rest of my pix from the experience.

    • Cate permalink*
      September 28, 2010 10:19 am

      Notecards are gorgeous, the colours and designs, I enjoy giving them as thank-yous for dinner parties.

  8. September 27, 2010 7:19 am

    I used to be an addict. I collected them and sent them, until they became a chore and took up valuable travel time.

    I still have a box of old postcards that I can’t part with. They evoke nostalgia every single time I open it…

    • Cate permalink*
      September 28, 2010 10:21 am

      Sending cards to all your friends and family reminds me of the chore around Christmas, but if you only send cards to a select few you do run the risk of upsetting someone who didn’t get one (even if they don’t read them).

      Isn’t it just as tiresome sending emails, tracking down an internet cafe, suffering through the slow connection and noise and often cigarette smoke.

  9. September 27, 2010 12:05 pm

    Oh wow, I wish you were sending me postcards.

    This time, travelling in Italy, one of my friends was picking up postcards to send to her friends back of home. And out of the blue, I remembered my friend back in undergrad sending me postcards from her trip to the States. Wierd what memories catch you unawares, and suddenly, there I was feeling sad for that unrequited post card…sad that I have never send one to her and to anyone really while travelling.

    PS: Note to myself to get more organized and surprise someone next time!

    PPS: love the post.

    • Cate permalink*
      September 28, 2010 10:22 am

      Thank you Ms N! You can change your travel style and surprise someone with a postcard the next time you travel. Not too late you know 🙂

  10. September 28, 2010 8:40 pm

    My name is Matt and I’m a facebook addict.

    • September 29, 2010 11:57 am

      I can see Facebook being addictive, luckily it hasn’t hit me that way.

  11. October 3, 2010 5:37 am

    Great writing! I want to see a follow up on this topic!!!

    Bert

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