Lucy & Linda; A Message on the High Line

Bringing you news once a week about the ongoing 60 Postcards project (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

Earlier today I was in the creative cafe, Drink Shop Do, having a coffee and a chat with Lucy. I didn’t know Lucy before our meet but I did know a little about her already, as she heard about 60 Postcards Stateside in Emerald Street a few days ahead of my journey to NYC. Her postcard arrived just in time. Phew.

There is nothing like sitting down and chatting away with a total stranger who just ‘gets it’. Although the experience of losing our mum’s fell at different stages of our lives, the conversation flowed with openness and ease. We could share, rant, laugh, reflect and feel completely comfortable talking about the taboo topic of loss in a, ‘This is how it is’ way. Completely refreshing.

Today’s post is about Lucy’s note for her mum……

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“To whoever finds this postcard – local or traveller, I send you positive energy from London, UK. 

I am writing this to spread the memory of my mother – Linda who passed away in 2003. 3 months before this we took a trip to NYC having the trip of our lives. It remains a very special place to me due to these memories of happy times. My mum wanted to travel and see the world a great deal more than she had the chance to. I’m lucky enough to travel monthly with work and take her memory with me. Most recently to Greece – as on the front of this card. 

Tell your close ones you love them today. Lucy :) x

The High Line in the Meatpacking district was high (ahem) on my list of things to do during my trip. Somehow I had managed to miss it on my first NYC visit. It is a walkway of greenery set above the streets, running over Chelsea up to the Lower West Side. It sounds pretty self-explanatory but I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I hopped up the stairs and realised how much of a hot spot it really was. I held Lucy’s postcard tightly in my hand and could only hope that I would find a quiet moment to leave it.

10830466_10152822099985873_6320938512997195063_oI walked along the urban park, taking it all in. I went through a group of stalls – one of which was selling old postcards. I was tempted to buy some but I have more postcards than I have ever owned in my life right now, and I certainly didn’t want to get any mixed up with the heartfelt messages I was carrying with me. I got about half way along the High Line when I took a stop break on a bench. Behind me was the buzz of the city and in front of me was the beautiful view of the Hudson River. This was it. This was the place. I didn’t want an audience for what I was about to do so I waited for a flurry of tourists to pass by and as the path became free of wanderers, I tied the postcard to the side of the bench, took a few snaps and flurried down the nearby stairs back down to street level.

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The scattering moment has been made even more special after meeting Lucy in person. We talked about how difficult grief can be, as sometimes you want to talk and other times you don’t. That fact reminds me of why I believe using creativity can be so beneficial when dealing with the loss of a loved one. You don’t need to talk at all. You can remain completely anonymous or you can choose to share to the world. Even just reading other people’s stories can help ease the pain.

I adore the closing line of Lucy’s postcard, ‘Tell your close ones you love them today’. It is such a lovely call to action for whoever may find the postcard and to anyone reading this blog post now.

Linda and Lucy – this one’s for you. Thank you for being part of it.

Rachael xx

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Pauline & Jo; A Tribute Filled with Friendship

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

It continues to be a very busy time at the moment – rushing around for meetings, doing research, filling the diary with events around Christmas (which I still can’t believe is almost here). I have also been enjoying my notifications from the Timehop app, which reminds me that at exactly this time last year, I was finishing the first draft of the book (and having several panic attacks in the process!).

So, today’s post is about another wonderful NYC postcard from my stateside mission (you can catch up on the plan here).

Over to Pauline…..

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“We always knew Jo would go before us. She’d been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 14 but ‘made it’ to 45 so we sort of thought she was invincible.

Jo had been my best friend since we had a fight over a boy in the playground in the 80’s. That boy (& many others) went by but we remained the best of friends even though I moved 200 miles away. Her legacy lives on through her beautiful daughter who through the grief aced her A Levels & this month starts uni.

Jo would have been so proud and I’m so proud to have had such an amazing best friend,

Pauline.”

The friendship between these two ladies shines through in both the postcard and letter. As I have said to Pauline, I have no doubt that the fantastic support of her friends and family were the reason that Jo beat the odds and kept fighting. I know that this is very raw for Jo’s loved ones, as it was only last February that she passed – I am just so pleased that this note was packed safely into my bag for the journey to New York City.

The scattering….

It felt like I had walked to every corner of Manhattan and back on the day I left this message. I had worked up quite the appetite and as the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts was on my way back to the Upper West Side where I was staying, I decided to find somewhere to grab a bite. The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Centre was the chosen location – a perfect people watching spot in the window of the Indie Food and Wine restaurant.

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The NY Film Festival was on while I was visiting, so there were lots of industry folk and film lovers floating about. I ate my food very slowly as I watched the passers-by and I was beginning to daydream (as I do so well) when I felt a tap on my shoulder. A lady smiled at me warmly and asked if she could put her coat with mine on the seat in between us. ‘Of course!’

I slipped back into my daydream but couldn’t help but notice that the lady and her friend next to me were totally engrossed in a wonderful interaction. Chatting and laughing – as if they were the only people in the room – it made me smile. I was thinking about friendship and suddenly realised that this would be the perfect place to leave Pauline’s postcard. I psyched myself up, got into ninja mode, grabbed my coat (being as quiet as possible) and snuck the postcard onto the seat. I walked out quickly and calmly (and with a grin from ear to ear). I had to take a diversion so that I didn’t walk past the window in full view of the ladies, who may or may not have noticed the handwritten note that was hiding right next to them.

When I sent Pauline an email with info and photos showing where her words had been scattered, the last thing she wrote in her reply was, ‘Nice touch with the cinema. So thought through’. This left me a little confuzzled to say the least. The link I had picked up on was one of friendship. It was when I had a look at Pauline’s twitter account that I realised she works for BAFTA. Serendipity has surrounded this project from the very beginning until this very day.

I would like to send my love to Pauline and to Jo’s family. What an incredibly strong woman Jo was, and she now lives on through her daughter and all of the people she touched in her life.

I look forward to sharing more of these notes with you very soon.

Have a lovely week,

Rachael x

60 POSTCARDS MEET UP – JANUARY 2015

I am very keen to arrange a meet up for blog/book readers on a weeknight in the last 2 weeks of January (in London).

It will be an informal eve of chats, drinks, NYC tales and also an opportunity for me to let you know the ideas I am working on behind the scenes for the next stage of the 60 Postcards project. I would really appreciate some group feedback from those who know the story so far!

Just so that I have an idea of numbers, please may you register your interest by voting below. Thank you!

 

 

 

Grand Central Terminal: A Postcard for John

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story in Glamour Magazine, here).

I returned from NYC a little while ago and, as promised in my last post, from here on I will be blogging about some of the postcards that I scattered around the Big Apple on behalf of other people – a mission of remembrance that I feel so honoured to be a part of.

Here is Jo’s story…..

The Postcard

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“Great! You found me!

My name is Jo, I live in Dorset, England. I’ve written this card in memory of my brother John who sadly lost his battle with cancer 7 years ago, age 56. During his life John loved to travel so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to join the ’60 Postcards’ Project and let his memory do some traveling.

Now you have found this, please do get in touch. I’d love to know about you and were/when you found my card. 

Here’s hoping, Jo xx’

Jo has followed the 60 Postcards blog for a while now and I was excited to see her at the Wimborne Literary Festival talk last week, which prompted me to begin with the story of her postcard in memory of her brother. Jo’s letter was so honest and heartfelt, explaining about her brother’s wonderful character and love for living life to the full. I really wanted to find the perfect spot for his tribute.

As I mentioned briefly in, The One Where 60 Postcards Hits NYC, I had contacted NYC blogger, Ashley, before the trip. Ashley and Sara are two friends that set up a lifestyle site called Wanderlust in the City (WebsiteFacebookTwitter) and I came across it as I was searching for tips about the city. I decided to reach out and get in touch as I thought that with their knowledge of NYC, they may be able to lend a helping hand.

Ashley and I met near her office and headed straight for the nearest Starbucks so that we could have a chat and make a scattering plan. We picked out Jo’s postcard and, with her words about John’s love for travel, Ashley suggested we head for Grand Central Terminal. It was the perfect place – such a transient hub – full of history and buzzing with travellers and tourists.

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We stopped for a couple of photos outside the front of the station. There was a lady close by who was curious as to why we were doing that – assuming that we must be tourists. I explained that I was from London, Ashley explained that she lives in NYC and when the lady then asked how we knew each other – Ashley and I glanced at each other and laughed as we realised that unless she had a spare hour, it would be difficult to explain the whole story. Photos done – it was time to head in to the station.

We stood looking over the main concourse, scouring the area for the perfect postcard spot. There was a row of ticket booths and some of them were not open for business at the time. I had attached a piece of ribbon to the card so we were able to tie it to the railing underneath one of the booth windows.

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Just as Ashley explains in her blog post about our day (60 Postcards in New York City), the hardest part for us was to walk away without looking back. Our scattering had been seamless, however, my goodbye with Ashley was not as I managed to spill coffee on her as we hugged goodbye (sorry again, Ashley!).

I feel honoured that with John’s love of travel, the memory of him could travel with me across the pond and was left in a place perfect for him. I have no doubt that Jo’s words on that postcard have been read – by one or by many. I haven’t had a response from a finder, but you just never know.

Jo and family – thank you so much for being part of this.

With love,

Rachael x