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Postcards from Paradise

Let’s say you’re lounging on a tropical beach, with the sea lapping at your toes. You close your eyes, as a gentle sea breeze riffles through your hair…utter bliss. “It’s as perfect as a postcard,” someone murmurs.

(An Island Runaways collection. Photo by Laura Albritton.)

Later that day, in a little beach-y souvenir shop, a rack of postcards draws your attention. Photos of coconut palms leaning over the surf, or of bright yellow fish on a nearby coral reef, pop out at you. Should you buy one? Two? A Handful? And in “island runaway” mode, will you have time to write one, find a stamp, then mail it to someone back home?

(Have time to write one? Photo by Laura Albritton.)

In our electronic era, when even little rum bars on remote islands seem to have Wifi, who’s sending postcards anymore? Well, I am, for one! But does that make any sense, when my friends and family can see my photo of a beach on Facebook, moments after I’ve emerged from the ocean?

Call me old-fashioned, but I still love these brightly printed rectangles of paper. Sitting at a bar or a café with a pen in one hand, postcard in the other, I attempt to think of something funny or interesting to write to a friend or a family member. Usually, what comes out is pretty mundane: “Wish you were here.” Or “you should see this view!” Sometimes, the process of searching for something to write leads me to the simple truth: "Miss you."

(This is one of our favorites we couldn't bear to send. Photo by Laura Albritton.)

In fact, I like postcards so much that I collect them, both of islands and other places I’ve traveled. Then, back home at Island Runaways headquarters, when the weather isn’t so great, or maybe my stress level is soaring, I’ll take them from a drawer and shuffle through them. A little village against the ocean. A smiling child in the Caribbean. These sights conjure up memories that I don’t want to forget.

Apparently, the first printed or mass-produced postcard was sold in the 1870s. Some portrayed popular tourist sites or modern marvels like the Eiffel Tower. Naughty “French postcards” featured ladies in various stages of undress. In general, it’s always been cheaper to send one of these paper cards than to mail a letter. And somehow they seem just perfect for vacation, when you want to send a sentence or two, but not pour out your heart in a two-page letter. (Or hugely long email!)

(This one provides just enough space...but not too much. Photo by Laura Albritton.)

So, what’s your philosophy about postcards? Do you buy them on your travels? Do you send them back home? I wonder if you’ve ever done what we do sometimes, which is mail one to ourselves…so we can recall happy times on a special island, long after we’ve left.

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