Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Missives from a 14 year old

Post from Thailand: Totally beautiful combination of  map envelope and crab stamp
In writing this blog over the past few weeks, I have come to realise that I have always loved post - more so than I was particularly conscious of. In search of blogging inspiration this week, I ventured deep into the hazardous realm of my parents' backyard shed. I was looking for the aerogram that I remember once receiving from Grandma. I didn't find it - but I did find three shoe-boxes full of letters that I had packed away before going overseas in 1999 and have never thought of since. This tells us that as well as being a stamp collector and full time nerd, I am also a tragic hoarder.

Within the boxes of letters from my high school girlfriends (which I dared not read), there was a folder full of old pen pal letters. When I was fourteen I joined "International Penfriends" and as it turns out I have a whole bunch of letters from Japan, Thailand, Switzerland, Denmark and Indonesia dating from c.1995. I am pretty glad that I am a hoarder, because the letters are all quite beautiful.

Cool postmark on this Swiss envelope. And the stamp on the left is pretty gorgeous.
What is not beautiful, but quite funny, is that in my folder full of my old pen pal letters, I have kept drafts of some of my letters to my prospective pen pals. "Hi my name is Helen and I go to Mirboo North Secondary College" etc. Fairly tellingly, in my draft introductory letter I also wrote:
"My hobbies include netball and badminton. I like art, but I am not fantastic at it. And I collect lots of things. You name it, I collect it, basically. Stamps, soaps, business cards and GLO caps"
GLO Caps? What the hell are they? Well, actually I know what they are. Because along side the letters in the shoeboxes I found in the shed, there were also, you guessed it, GLO Caps. Sheesh. What a dork. I was onto something with the stamps though.

So my letters were pretty cheesy. What I think is particularly funny is the note to myself recording what I had included in  'Letter No. 2' to Damien Walsh, which I noted was written on apricot paper and sent on the 31.11.95. I told Damien:
  •  all about an embarrassing moment at badminton (I wonder what that was?)
  • that I have to share a bedroom with my little sister 
  • and that I had an excursion for my geography class to the beach at Inverloch.
Pretty exciting stuff from the life of a 14 year old. Meanwhile, some fourteen-year-olds are drinking, partying and generally running amok. I was drafting pen pal letters.
Apparently I wasn't always so prompt with my replies...

So, in delving into my parents shed (a dangerous thing to do at the best of times) I did not find the aerogram that I was looking for, but I did find a whole collection of  'post'. And I also found that I told a lie in my first blog post, as I have actually received more than one aerogram in my life. I received one from a pen pal when I was fourteen. And here it is, 16 years later:

Featuring a hot air balloon! Love it.


  1. Collecting anything is fun and i know from experience that just about everyone collects something, thus just about everyone falls into the 'nerd'category. Happy collecting.

  2. That is so cool. What surprises me the most is that you knew how to write in all of those different languages when you were 14 - or did they write in English? I'd like to think that they didn't and you were just a really intellegent 14 year old.
    I love your Blog, so far it's been the highlight of my day - except for the Tacos and Beer.
    By the way, soap collecting is something I once did myself. I had a big box full of Avon soap.
    It's cool to be a collector.

    1. Wow Sandra! I am super excited that my blog might rate anywhere near Tacos and Beer among the highlights of your day!! Thanks so much. And I agree, for all my nerd talk, it is definitely cool to be a collector! ;) on Missives from a 14 year old


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