I started sending snail mail at a young age, back when someone else had to post the letters for me. With his mom's help, my cousin and I once wrote to an obscure children’s TV show—I don’t remember it anymore—and in return we received some merch in the mail a few weeks later. Meanwhile, my yaya gave me a pen pal, her daughter in Surigao del Norte who was around my age. We exchanged letters and wallet-sized photos.
In college, I started sending my friends postcards from my travels. Later on, I began sending postcards to myself, too. (I've met a few other awesome people who do it!) I usually begin with, "Hey, Micah! On this trip, you..." then I list big highlights as well as tiny, random moments. I love reading the postcards I sent myself years ago—they help me remember places, experiences, and feelings. Sadly, I don't always receive the postcards. I'm still angry at the Parañaque post office about 7 postcards (all from a 2012 European tour) that never arrived!
You could say I'm a little obsessed with postcards. I have a hefty personal stash, and I regularly trade postcards with lovely strangers on Reddit. When I started my paper shop, Eden Street, I knew I had to make postcards. I'm hoping to organize a postcard exchange in the future and get people to send more snail mail.
I really, really love snail mail. Here are a few reasons why:
I love postcards and handwritten letters for the same reason I prefer books and magazines to their digital counterparts: the sensory experience of opening an envelope, turning over the pages, holding a card whose ink blots and crumpled corners hint at its journey across the oceans. They are mementos I can touch and feel—and display in my room!
A card is a treat that someone put some time and thought into, from picking it out to writing on it to dropping it in the postbox. I mean, we sometimes agonize just as much about the perfect emojis to punctuate a text message or Instagram caption, but I personally prefer hand-drawn doodles on postcards.
Its arrival is a surprise.
Snail mail is an exercise in delayed gratification. Especially if it's coming from the Philippine post office, you never know when your letter will reach its destination, and your "Seen" notification comes in the form of a Facebook message or an Instagram post. I really love the surprise factor, because...
…It makes someone's day.
I've had heartwarming experiences of my letters arriving exactly when they were needed. A friend who had moved back to Canada got my welcome-home card after a rough morning; she was so moved by the surprise that she sent me a touching thank-you card in return. Another friend received my note on her ex’s birthday. In the card, I had quoted my favorite Doctor Who line: The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. My friend messaged me, "It was a very good quote for a bad day. Thank you so much."
A postcard is just a piece of paper, but I'm often amazed by what a piece of paper can do. I can't help but believe there's magic involved when I'm sending letters the old-fashioned way—magic, love, and joy that I hope to keep spreading via air mail for as long as I can.