By Matt Valerio
As we all know, 2021 was a rough year. Aside from the existential dread and anxiety coursing through my veins about the state of the world, I often found myself embracing the silver lining that allowed me to have more time to focus on art: To be creative in new ways and to use that creativity as therapy. Art was a way to process all the emotions I was having about everything going on around me. So, I decided to start a small project.
Over the past few years, I’ve made it a point to reach out to friends via text or social media the moment they pop into my head. I reach out immediately, so I don’t forget. This time, I decided to step up my game a bit: I wanted a way to reach out to friends and make a connection in a truly tangible way.
Personally, when I receive a “Just saying hi” text from a friend, it momentarily brightens my day but then I move on. So, I thought that if I took the time to CREATE something for a friend and put it in the mail, not only do they get that dopamine hit of receiving some handmade artwork, but they now have something tangible to put on their fridge. Something to remind them that someone is thinking of them.
I bought a few bulk lots of old postcards, some white-out pens and got to work, writing “Just Saying Hi” in some form on the front of the card. I dropped them in the mail to every friend who popped into my head. The response was overwhelming. Not only did many friends reach out to say how surprised they were and how much this gesture meant to them, but it did a lot for me as well. Being able to connect with friends through art during a troubling time was extremely cathartic. The next time you think of a friend, I encourage you to reach out to them and say hello as soon as they pop into your head. You’ll be glad you did.
Matt Valerio is a part-time artist, part-time art aficionado, and a full-time dad with a secret past as a touring musician. A transplant from the East Coast, he has lived in California for a total of 15 years, 6 of which have been in Long Beach. You can access his art and more via instagram.com/mattbomarr or bomarrblog.com .