A Postcard from the Past§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: May 8, 2014; revised: April 2, 2018; readers in past month: 1135

When I was in my early twenties, I worked for Merrill Lynch in New Orleans, in the Wire Room — that’s the department that used a teletype system for wiring orders for investments to the stock exchanges for clients. I was then the supevisor of that department. It was a neat job for me. At the time, I had hopes of becoming a stock broker and maybe a manager. I eventually did both, but ten years later I decided that I didn’t like that type of work or that life. I wanted to do something more artistic, something for which I had more passion. I wanted to travel and maybe live in Europe.

Front of Post Card
Back of Post Card

One of the cashiers, a man named Pablo Avendano had been working for Merrill Lynch for many years and was therefore entitled to four weeks vacation a year. He and his lover, Eddy would go to Europe several times a year. Their home was filled with beautiful antique furniture and decorations from all over Europe. Pablo had an interesting story for each item in their home, and told wonderful stories about their travels after every vacation. To me, he had a charmed life. I wanted a life like that for me.

On one of their trips to Europe, they went to San Marino, a small country located within Italy. Pablo sent me a postcard with photos of San Marino. I found recently this postcard in box of postcards I’ve accumulated. I’ve scanned the front and back of it and posted it here, on the right.

He included the names of the two other people in the department (Debbie and Trina), but it was directed mainly to me. So I took it home and kept it. I have treasured it. In case you can’t make out his handwriting, here’s what he wrote:

Regards from this old and beautiful country; small but rich in history, art and beautiful architecture. Everything is peaceful and I am resting in full, but I don’t forget ML.

Always, Pablo & Eddy

(good stamp)

He mentioned the stamps because I collected stamps at the time and he knew I would appreciate them.

I so desperately wanted to go to Europe and to Italy, but so many things held me back. My wife of the time didn’t share my desire to go to Europe. She thought it was a nice idea, but many other things were more important to her. There were also psychological barriers that prevented me: it seems like an impossible adventure until you go at least once, and I had never been. My parents promised to take me when I was in my early teens, but they never did. They went to Europe once and didn’t take me with them. There were other factors that kept me tied to New Orleans, that prevented me from traveling abroad — living overseas was an idea beyond credibility. But I never gave up hope and continued to remember that traveling to Europe was possible: I had a postcard from Pablo to prove it.

It took divorcing the wife and a long period of unemployment, which led to me becoming a writer, which in turn led to a job that brought me to Europe for the first time in May 2005. It took a hurricane to set me free of my moorings that tied me to New Orleans, and just taking an outrageous chance, to get me to move to Italy in October 2005. I went through plenty to get here, but I made it here and I’m a happier person as a result.

That postcard was sent to me in 1985. Twenty years after Pablo sent it to me, I came to Europe. It took twenty years for me to clear away all of the obstacles in my life for that vision to take hold and become a reality. Everything else that seemed so real and permanent — marriage and homestead — dissipated and the desire to live in Europe survived, the determination to change my life was fulfilled. It seems that my passions can outlive everything else.