Okay, I admit it. There’s another man in my life. This relationship has been going on for a long time; it seems like I can’t remember a time in my life when he wasn’t there. He visits me everyday (except on Sunday), and dare I say it? He’s a man in uniform. I eagerly await his arrival and his gifts, and I am disappointed when he arrives late. Who is he? The mailman.
My love of getting mail probably has a lot to do with my infatuation with the mailman. Our relationship was pretty hot and heavy when I was younger and received postcards and letters from my friends and grandparents. My favorites were postcards with pictures of exotic locations like Cleveland or Pierre. In turn, I wrote them postcards and letters when they or I went on trips and moved away. I sought out funny cards with Garfield and Odie to send. My idealized correspondence was with pen pals: opportunities to meet people I didn’t know far, far away. There were a few brief exchanges with others, but nothing like the life-long exchange I imagined. The most interesting of my pen pals was a serviceman serving in Desert Storm. It began as all pen pal letters do, with a description of me, my life and interests. His response revealed that he may have glossed over the kind of important fact that I was also 12 years old. That was the end of that.
My affair with the mailman peaked in college with my many friends who still believed in the power of stamps and envelopes. I could not make it out of the mailroom without tearing their letters open for news from home and “hearing” the distinct voices of each of my friends. I pinned their cards to my wall to read and reread. Afterwards, life was postponed as I penned my replies and ran back to the mailroom to hear them hit the bottom of the drop box. In the meantime, my professors explained a new-fangled idea called the “internet” and I set up my first e-mail account. I didn’t realize at the time that they were the death-knell of hand-written correspondence.
Today I feel like a worn-out mistress trying to reclaim the attractions of her man. In lieu of sending flowers to myself, I order books from Amazon, subscribe to magazines, and belong to several organizations to redirect the mailman’s attention to me. He seems rather content doling out the Penny Saver and credit card offers, the same attention he gives everyone. He only remembers special occassions such as my birthday and Christmas. Delivering the Atlantic, Harper’s Monthly, and Vanity Fair are cursory glances my way. And now it looks like he may not even be stopping by on Saturdays any more. Have we entered the stage where I no longer want what he has to give: credit card bills, ads, and political fliers? Will my current pack of “Forever” stamps last me forever? Is there any chance of salvaging this relationship? Or has the end of this relationship been post-marked a long time ago?
Readers, what things did you grow up with that you miss?