The Perfect Moment

Marking the conclusion of a 12-year project to send letters on palindromic dates that won’t be seen again in this century.


I am standing outside the Astoria OR post office, 11 years, 11 months and 11 days since the last time I was here. On that day — 01/01/01 — I held a clutch of envelopes, about to mail the first of a planned 12-year series of annual letters to family and friends, sent on the ‘palindromic’ dates: dates on which the numbers for day, month and year were all the same. Today, on 12/12/12, I am here again, about to mail my last missive in this series. (The next opportunity for such a letter being in the next century, I don’t expect to be around to avail myself of it. I hereby throw the torch.)

Some are celebrating 12/12/12 by getting married; some, in search of the perfect moment, perhaps, are marrying at exactly 12:12.

Me, I’m going sand-dollar hunting. Astoria gives easy access to the Long Beach peninsula and Leadbetter Point State Park — a perfect spot for sand-dollar hunting. As it turns out, I have all the sand dollars I need and then some, but it is all about the finding, not the having. Seeing that distinctive shape, digging it out of the wet sand, realizing that it is whole — it is a perfect moment that repetition does not diminish.

Even looked at collectively, my 12 letters are neither the start of the great Canadian novel nor historical documents for the ages, but individually they have been a way for me to remember to make the effort to connect with family and friends. Maybe it’s always the perfect moment for that.

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2 Responses to The Perfect Moment

  1. Jim taylor says:

    Good for you. It’s important to do something symbolic, once in a while. I wonder how many households and families had that discussion about 12/12/12 not coming again in our lifetimes — certainly, ours did.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – I found it sort of interesting. It took a while to get going in the media – there wasn’t much coverage of these dates that I remember until 06/06/06 – and then there was a real flurry of activity around 07/07/07 as a ‘lucky’ day to get married. And then it seemed to go quiet again until this year…

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