I stamped 450 postcards yesterday and, halfway through, I remembered that I fancied myself a stamp collector for a few years as a kid. I used to get these finely bound, glossy magazines in the mail with cool stamps and stamp collector paraphernalia, and I would read them from front to back, circling the ones I really wanted. I’d also do calculations: this amount of stamps will cost this amount of $. If I actually purchased anything it was minimal, since I didn’t have a penny to my name at the age of 8. Hell, I still don’t.
I guess the concept of having the money – the luxury, really – to splurge on stupid shit like NASA-themed stamps and stamp albums (no disrespect to stamp aficionados, truly) was appealing to me. It seemed like a fancy hobby to have. I also liked the idea of borrowing the family’s best pen (you know which one I’m talking about, every household has one), writing the best love note known to man, and shipping it off with the swift lick of a tongue on the back of a stamp (remember when stamps didn’t have adhesive? The horror!). It’s just funny because up until yesterday, I hadn’t given a single thought to my stamp-collecting days on East Street in Pawtucket.
Being a kid was cool as shit. You pick up early that the world can be a crummy place, but you’re typically too lost in your own imagination or toys to really let it hurt. Not every kids’ experience is like this, sadly, but for the most part, we are gifted the ability to sit with innocence for some time, however brief. Good ol’ naivete spares you for a little bit. You don’t have much of a concept on money, so you think your parents can afford to buy a whole book of stamps and also keep the electricity on. You don’t have a concept of time, so you aren’t aware that some people in your life won’t be around forever. You cannot comprehend, just yet, that you won’t be around forever, either. You have no concept of ignorance and hatred, so you don’t understand that you might be viewed as less than, stupid, or as nothing because of how you look, your gender, or your zip code. You aren’t familiar with heartbreak, so you don’t know better than to memorize every inch of the face of the round-eyed boy that sits next to you in class.
I could go on forever. I’m feeling melancholy, I suppose, and I just want my leopard overalls, jelly chanclas and gafas back, along with a stamp magazine. Maybe this time I would buy myself a pretty stamp as a reminder – a token – of a better time.