Dismantling the Postcard wall and getting rather nostalgic about it

I’m moving out of my flat on the 15th of June, which is, objectively, still more than a month away. However, spending so much time inside this flat lately has really made me think about what this flat means (and has meant) to me and what the future will hopefully bring, and in a fit of … not really inspiration and definitely not passion, but in a fit of something, I decided to dismantle my postcard wall today.

I love my postcard wall. When I first moved to Kristiansand I bought my first ever mailbox, and for a couple of moments, I felt like a proper adult. To fill the mailbox with nice things, I joined Postcrossing, and since September 2018 I’ve sent 203 cards and received 202. Every single card has been meticulously pinned to my wall, and today I’ve taken them all down. It took me about an hour – I wanted to have a read through, and properly look at all of them, not just tear them down.

The postcard wall has served as an interesting and unique piece of decoration to make a student flat seem a bit less dull (and orange, that wall is oh so very orange). It was the one thing people always commented on when they entered my flat; there was always a “wow” or a “what on earth is all this?” But more important than that – it made the flat feel a bit less temporary. The postcard wall was “my thing”; 202 greetings from 202 people I’ve never met, 202 people’s handwritings and well-wishes from around the world, and something that slowly built itself up around me. And as I was taking the cards down, I looked at so many of them and I realised that I can remember receiving almost all of them. I remember when specific cards popped into my mailbox, how quickly I ran inside to register them and pop a message back to the sender, before putting them up on the wall, contemplating whether the front or the back should be on show. I do not know where any of the cards I’ve sent ended up, but maybe they’re on someone else’s postcard wall, or in an album or a box that someone flicks through when they need a smile or a giggle. The postcard wall has definitely made me feel safe and at home, like I’m surrounded by these snippets of time, these conversations happening at kitchen tables and desks all around the globe. What a privilege to get to be a part of such a thing.

I’ve moved six times in the last six years, but this is the first flat I’m genuinely sad to leave. Taking down this wall, which I’ve appreciated so much, felt like the first step to taking my time to thank the flat and start moving out of it. Having to rush all of these cards down, while simultaneously trying to pack up everything else just felt wrong; the cards needed their own time and their own moments. Silly, I know, but it just felt right.

So here you go, I hope you enjoy this little snippet of how the postcard wall came to be history. A lot less dramatic than I make it sound, but to be fair, removing the first card felt quite dramatic to me. Then it became a bit meditative, as I read through the kind words of strangers who’ve all given me a little bit of their time on the back of a card, who all helped make this flat feel a little bit more like mine. And without planning for it, the very last card left on the wall, the very last to be carefully taken down, was actually the very first I received. Full circle, and all that.

Here’s to many more postcards, in many more mailboxes to come. I hope you’re having a lovely day, and that you’re staying safe wherever you are.

-Andrea

Journal #20, Time Capsule February 2nd, 11:47

A green spray bottle of stove top-cleaner and a bright yellow tea towel hangs from the handle of a dark grey cupboard door. Contrasts, let’s call it that. Behind that cupboard door, generic-brand chocolate chip cookies, bags of rice, tins of chopped tomatoes and kidney beans are waiting for their respective dinners. I’m sat at the kitchen table, a light brown table with four grey chairs around it, with a mug of tea in my hands. Steam rises in swirls from the mug; swirls I’m sure could tell someone more clearsighted than me about an abundance of futures. To me, it only speaks of comfort and of the prospect of having a nice sip of tea, soon.

A big window covers the wall next to me, framed by white, opaque curtains. Through it, I can see directly into the kitchen next door, where two people are sat just like me, mugs in hand, sun in through the window. I recognise their mugs; big mugs for hefty portions of warm beverages, with pineapples and watermelons painted on them. They’re from the little coffee-and-tea shop in town, the shop that always leaves your clothes smelling sweetly of artisan drinks whenever you visit. They’re sipping their drinks. It’s quiet.

I’m eating reheated soup. It tastes good because it’s good soup, but also because I didn’t have to make it myself and it was free. I was at the uni at 6 pm on Friday, right when the cafeteria gave away all the food they hadn’t been able to sell that day. I was with some friends at Østsia, our uni’s little student pub, from 1 pm to close to 7, just sitting, talking and chatting, laughing. Haven’t done anything like that in a while, just gone out to sit in the same spot for hours and enjoy the company of lovely people. It was sorely needed.

Back in the kitchen, the note on the fridge with “Welcome to the Flat!” is still stuck to the door. It’s been there since June of last year, June 2019. I wrote it as a greeting to whoever were gonna move in over the summer, and even though Maja did move in, and we’re both settled here now, we’ve just never removed it. Now it can greet visitors, guests, maybe even the people who’ll move in after us. Next to the fridge is the very pink bread box, the glass jar filled to the brim with my yorkshire tea bags, a couple of cookbooks and our kettle. That kettle has followed me through a couple of flats now, and it’s still going strong; still making excellent tea. Or at least the water for said tea. However, it’s getting a bit rusty on the inside, so maybe this is its last flat. We’ll see.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Today is a Sunday, and Sundays mean cosy clothes. I’m wearing my favourite Levis Mile High jeans, the ones I’m planning on wearing until they fall apart, and my burgundy corduroy shirt. It is the cosiest shirt, one of those you can just button up and disappear in.

I’m gonna get started on some uni work now, but I just wanted to record this little moment in all its mundaneness. I often think about how many seconds and minutes of my life I cannot remember – the moments that disappear into nothingness when more exciting things come along and demand space in my memory bank, in my brain, and I have a feeling this moment is gonna be one of those. Well, at least I’ve written it down now. Excitement and plans and socialising are all important parts of life, but sometimes, this quiet nothing is comfortable too.

So here’s to many more minutes of this; of teacup swirls and reheated soup and absolutely nothing.

-Andrea