Sometimes I’m a huge nerd. I enjoy doing nerdy things like playing Scrabble, doing crossword puzzles (and timing myself), reading for fun and writing letters by hand to pen pals from across the world.
You remember pen pals, right? There was that boy in Wisconsin who was assigned to you in 5th grade during the unit on professional composition. You inquired thoughtfully about his favorite color or food and became his girlfriend for a month after exchanging wallet-sized school photos. There was the long-lost second cousin in Ohio who you met for the first time a week before your 16th birthday. You became inseparable for the three days you were together and wrote gushing letters about making out with Backstreet Boys or forming an all-girl band for the following six months or so. There were the eight random Finnish teens you inherited from a friend who researched her genealogy in 7th grade and got in over her head, stamp-wise. You learned about Finnish Death Metal and realized that language barriers are tedious so you let that peter out pretty quickly. Or there was that time you were bored with your suburban life and saw a TV show about Prison Pen Pals, so you immediately got online and contacted two death row inmates, wrote them each a letter and got nervous upon receiving replies so you abandoned that as quickly as you started. You should never have googled their crimes. Hindsight.
Pen Pals. You know, standard fare.
I’m a little older now, and my attention span is at least slightly larger, so I thought I’d take another whack at it and re-open the international lines of hand-written communication. The first thing I did was buy accessories. The most fun part of a hobby is collecting the necessary (or superfluous) accessories. I ordered a box set of delightfully vintage postcards that scream “Americana”, bought a pretty shoe box in which to store the piles of letters and postcards I receive and invested my life savings in a roll of stamps. Once the important work was done I started trolling Interpals.net for potential snail mail buddies.
Surprisingly enough, there are few people on the internet who are interested in finding a pen in that cluttered “junk drawer” and spending loads of money on postage. Most of them are from Turkey, Morocco or Algeria and would like to marry me and teach me all about living in the glory of god. And also, they really like my breasts. After wading through those messages and blocking an entire continent from being able to contact me, I was able to nail down a couple of potential pen pals.
The Finnish girl, while giving me flashbacks of 7th grade, does makeup for a living and has a really crazy talent for it. I look forward to trading tips, tricks and hopefully some domestic makeup every once in a while. Until I get bored or run out of stamps, that is. The Brazilian would prefer not to be addressed with a gender-based pronoun, as they identify as both and neither male and/or female. This may be a lasting letter-friendship as I suspect I’ll never run out of questions to ask. Lastly, an adorable woman from a ridiculously gorgeous (and terribly deadly, I’m sure) part of Australia contacted me and assured me she’ll send the first letter. I am really glad the entire world speaks English. If I had to copy everything from google-translate, I wouldn’t be so pumped to embark on this ancient communication joyride.
Because I’m extremely impatient and nobody contacted me immediately about being international BFFs, I joined another site to speed things along. Postcrossing.com is dedicated to the random exchange of postcards around the globe. I sent out five postcards, the required amount to get started, to Belarus, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia and Ukraine and soon, I’ll start receiving random cards from wherever is lucky enough to be randomly assigned my address. Belarus and Netherlands have already registered my cards, but I have a hunch Russia will be awhile.
These are the kinds of things that happen when I get bored and restless. I can’t jet across the world so I suppose I’ll settle for awkward pleasantries in hard-to-read handwriting. At least the mailbox will offer more than Sallie Mae statements for a while.