Next I made up some prototypes and discovered that not only did my friends respond to the cards I was sending them, but that they felt exactly the same way I did and started asking for their own sets of postcards to send on in turn to their friends. The idea of promoting Une Année d’Amitié, as a business was born.
You describe yourself as ‘A Student of Friendship’…
Yes, I admit that I have a lot to learn about being a good friend. Perhaps I’ve moved around the world too much. I tended to think that friendships could be picked up easily and revived at will. I thought you don’t need regular contact. But it turns out that a lot of things can get in the way of friendship, for example lack of time, too much work, studies, children, different paths, different spouses, distance… I realise now that friendship needs to be worked at and so I am willing to work and to learn, and am therefore a student of friendship.
And the 12 monthly postcards are a little reminder?
Absolutely. Friendship means hanging in and staying connected! The monthly thing obliges you to do that. I discovered that just having the name of the month on the front of the postcard got me thinking… when did I last communicate ? Who can I write to this month? or ‘Who would be happy to get a postcard next month?’ It’s a little structure that helps and also sets up an anticipation.
And who’ve been the lucky recipients?
I have religiously been sending 2 to the same 2 people each month since I started the project in January. If I’m traveling I pre-address them and send them from wherever I am. I keep a pack on hand for spontaneous communication (which often means birthday cards). I recently became a grandmother so have added in a postcard a month to my new grand-daughter as a diary of her first year of life from a grandmother’s viewpoint. I’m hoping she’ll pull them out of a shoebox and enjoy them on a rainy day in the far distant future.
Who inspires you?
My mother. I recently did a trip down Memory Lane to my childhood hometown in Minnesota. Whereas I hadn’t kept track of my childhood friends, she had kept track of hers and it seemed like everywhere we went people were throwing their arms around her and quickly catching up because they had kept in contact over the years. We walked into one restaurant where she ran into an old friend before we got through the second set of doors (in Minnesota you need two sets of doors to keep out the icy winter blasts for 6 months of the year). Two metres beyond the 2nd set of doors the whole restaurant participated in the shrieks of joy as my mother and her old primary school teacher saw and recognized each other and my mother is over eighty! This is a testament to staying connected !
I also got in touch with my old university crowd not long ago. I left the US shortly after graduating and moved on with my life in a new culture. My friends also moved onwards, but kept in contact with each other. They still meet up regularly. I’m not sure the alcohol still flows like it used to, and pretty much hope it doesn’t, but I am seriously impressed with their dedication to friendship and feel very much the poorer for missing out on all the years I let the Atlantic Ocean get between us.
Yes, I am inspired by friends through thick and thin. And am incredibly lucky in that my best friend remains my husband.
There is also a quotation that I love:
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
See the full range and order Diane’s postcards online from www.uneanneedamitie.com