correspondances estivales


Some months ago, Isabelle of Lathelize invited me to be part of an utterly charming annual project of hers. She calls it “correspondances estivales”, which Google Translate mangled into “summer match”. Basically, it’s a handmade postcard exchange. Over an eight week period starting in early July, we are each assigned a different person for whom we create and mail out a postcard. The one you see above  I received from lovely Isabelle (a different Isabelle from the organizer, I’ve been informed, but no less lovely). Délicieux, no?

I don’t know about you, but I lament the decline of handwritten missives. I recently found a box of saved letters from my youth and was instantly transported to the past, emotions running high. One particular card from a dear, dear friend — the card was a Valentine’s Day one with a primitive illustration of two stick figure friends talking — lurched me into a state of unstoppable tears. She sent me the card while I was living in Japan, teaching English to high school students. She and I were roommates just before I left for my teaching position; we were actually roommates for almost six years. We’d met our Freshman year in the college dorms and immediately knew we were kindred spirits. People talk about chemistry in romantic situations all the time, but friendships have definitive chemistry too. We became good friends with two other girls and for the next three years the four of us lived together in various apartments. After graduation, she and I continued to live together in Los Angeles when the other girls moved on to other parts of the country. Our last shared apartment was ramshackle and disturbingly close to a strip club, but it was all we could afford at the time and oh, the adventures we had!

The card was filled with her signature hilarious escapades, but the words were tinged with sadness. I remembered how I sat in my little Japanese living quarters in the middle of a rice field reading her card from L.A., how viscerally I missed her and that rare kind of friendship in which you know you can be completely and unabashedly open with each other. As I get older, I find that it’s harder to find and keep those friendships, caught up as we are with marriage or raising kids or work or all of the above.


All this to say, I’m so glad Isabelle is hosting this wonderful exchange of old timey communication. I sent a quick watercolor postcard to France (above), and I’m preparing to send my next one out:


Thank you for including me, Isabelle! I think it would be fantastic if everyone spent a few minutes sending out a handwritten note to someone, anyone every once in a while. I love to see how people shape their letters, the quirks of their penmanship, the crossed out words. It connects us in a deeper way than any text or email or facebook comment, I believe. And connection…well, nothing quite measures up to authentic connection.



10 thoughts on “correspondances estivales

  1. Perhaps it’s on purpose, but the comments are closed (at least they are on my computer!) on the next post, the giveaway one. I figured I’d say something in case it isn’t just me, and it isn’t on purpose. Congrats on two years. And, I’ve walked past Drygoods several times, but I haven’t made the time to go in. I’ll have to next time I’m in Ballard!

    1. Hi Amy, thanks for catching that! Totally a mistake on my part – I was having internet connectivity issues in Indiana while writing that post and things got wonky…Anyway, I’ll make sure you’re included as part of the giveaway and definitely check out Drygoods before they move to Pioneer Square (though you’ll have to check out their new digs there too — it’s GORGEOUS).

  2. That is so neat. I am going to make a postcard today! Did you use watercolor paper and just cut it to size? I like to play with watercolors..even though i haven’t a clue of what i’m doing. They are ao pretty.

    1. Oh hooray! I used some Strathmore watercolor postcards (they’re actually meant for kids but they worked fine). I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way of using any sort of art medium, Anna 🙂 If you have fun with them, that’s all that matters!

  3. Yes! You say this so well. I think connection is harder as adults when you have experienced more hurts and betrayals as well, you walk into new encounters more jaded or reserved. We move often and have to start over often, and it gets harder as I get older. But then when real connection happens it is a treasure trove! I have been trying to send more real mail this year, and it makes me happy to stop and be intentional with long distance friends, but it has been a while. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Good points, Beccy. I think age does make us more cautious…but yes, once those real connections are found, they need to be held onto! Handwritten mail is such a thrill for me, I just love it.

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