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Post Cards to My Brother

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Every Sunday, I select a post car or two from a stack I keep in my desk, put a stamp and an address label on them, and proceed to sit down and compose a quick message to my brother, who lives in Idaho.

The messages often feel awkward to me—a post card isn’t big enough to write a long letter, and besides, Aaron isn’t interested in my dating life or the daily dramas of teaching. I usually make inane comments about the weather, or generic comments along the lines of, “I hope all is well with you and the family.” I’ll mention my cat or just write a simple, “All’s well here, went to San Francisco and got some more post cards to send your way.”

Aaron is seven years my senior, and to say we are different is like saying the sun and moon have little in common. We get along well enough, but we share so few relatable interests…and there’s only so long I can discuss cats or 70s rock with him before I’m wishing there was something new to go on about. Religion and politics are out—we stand at opposite ends of the spectrum there.

Several years ago, we hit a rough patch in our relationship, as happens with families. Difficult feelings rose to the surface and caused both of us to react in ways that weren’t entirely kind. We’ve moved on from that, but since then, I’ve found it easiest to avoid certain topics with Aaron—it’s better for all of us if we just avoid the subjects we disagree on and stick to discussing neutral subjects.

Because of these differences, phone calls are usually short, and we don’t write long, newsy emails (Aaron doesn’t do email) either. So we send post cards.

A few years ago, Aaron started collecting post cards, and he seemed to enjoy sending me post cards from Idaho after he and his wife relocated there from California. I caught on and started sending a few post cards from the Sacramento area. After a remark (via post card, of course) from Aaron that he loved receiving them for his growing collection, I figured we were on to something. Now, wherever I go—a day trip to San Francisco, a job interview in Monterey, a jaunt to Lake Tahoe—I buy a small handful of post cards, and store them away in my desk. Every Sunday, I take one or two out and write a brief message wishing my brother well, telling him I’m fine. They go in the mail Monday morning, and a few days later, arrive at Aaron’s mailbox, making him happy.

It seems to work for us, communicating mostly via short messages on the back of a post card. It keeps a line of communication open between two very different siblings, and it makes us both smile to receive those small notes in the mail.

We’ve all heard the variations of that cute saying about having friends to make up for the family we were given. I’m pretty lucky; my family isn’t so bad. We have our quirks, and we have our ups and downs, but we love each other. I may feel miles away from Aaron in many respects, but he is my brother, and I love him.

So I send the post cards. A twenty-five cent card and a forty-five cent postage stamp are a small price to pay for keeping in touch with him, and letting him know I care.

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