‘Wherever you go, I don’t care where you go, just send me something in the mail from where you are.’
- Wallace Berman
A postcard from the gift shop at the Musée d’Orsay. I am writing you from the table where we once sat, by the large window in the museum café. I hesitated between this picture of a Matisse and another of a Monet.
It is a rainy, beautiful afternoon, as only Paris afternoons can be. You would have loved this exhibit. I wish you were here.
'Blizzard in the suburbs
And the poet walking.'
—Jack Kerouac, Book of Haikus
I wish I could send you postcards of all the other places and times I have seen. Of holidays, grey days, sights and smells. Landscapes of different people, plans, and versions of me.
A postcard from a childhood. Four of us piled onto one bed. Pretending to be Robinson Crusoe, or pirates on a ship. Throwing pillows, stealing covers, warming toes, building tents. Nothing more I could wish for, no place I would rather be.
A postcard from a war zone. Sharing canned food and stories in shelters, whole buildings and lives displaced. Pretending gunshots were fireworks, and smoke was pixie dust. Wishing ourselves some place else, any place but here.
A postcard from a birthday. Little white candles, fluffy pink cake. Daffodils warm and bright yellow against a Glaswegian grey. Dipping shortbread biscuits in sweet black tea on the damp green grass in the park. Wishing today were every day, and we could stay forever here.
A postcard from an airport. A multitude of places to go, and possible lives to lead. Suitcase in one hand, heart in the other, not trusting myself to turn around and wave goodbye back. Wishing for a storm, a malfunction, a canceled flight. Wishing you were coming with me, wishing I could stay here.
A postcard from a funeral. A hole in my chest that hurts. Wishing, harder than I ever thought possible, that you could be here.
Postcards of Greek temples. Mayan pyramids, Tuscan vineyards. Dutch tulip fields. Timeless reassurances that I too once was here. Gilded mosques and cathedrals, glistening oceans and caves. Cold hermit cells, dry deserts, volcanoes and Buddhist huts.
‘Time passes through us, or we pass through it.’
- Mahmoud Darwish
Our lives are postcards of condensed moments. On the back, a few scribbled lines.
Here we had cake for breakfast, cold pasta at midnight. Slept in on Sunday, and chased the Monday morning bus. Here we stood in line for a carnival ride, a visa, a flight.
Here I was happy. Here I was in love. Here I breathed into the telephone, across an ocean to you.
A postcard from the airplane. Transatlantic. Window seat. I am writing you from that space between me and the next time we meet.
The clouds look like a sea of cotton candy, the pink kind, in the sunset. They would have made you hungry too. I wish you were here.