I decided to sit by the mailbox and wait for your letter today.
The idea sounded bold and romantic in my head, but the second my thin moccasin shoes hit the cold ground, I immediately cursed each and every Nicholas Sparks book. Those somewhat unrealistic tales of selfless bold love and glamorous evenings by the coast. Words like “forever” and “undying” flying around like some nasty insect that can’t take a hint. But alas, I swallowed my frustration with Nick and continued my walk to the end of the driveway. People talk about those rare existential moments where the real world seems to melt away. Becoming endless pools of trees and trucks, houses and husbands, classrooms and careers, expectations and evenings…all a giant mess on the floor. My driveway turned into a canvas of everything and nothing all at once. I thought of the letter I was waiting for, and wondered if I even wanted to read it. If I ever wanted to read a letter from anyone again. What are words, anyways? Handfuls of symbols and dots that someone translate into feelings and ideas? How can pen, paper and a purposed hand hurt so bad? The math didn’t seem to add up correctly. But I kept on walking anyways.
I’m starting to believe that people don’t ever really know when the mailman comes. My parents and former roommates would always pretend they knew…”Oh, he comes around 2…” But I don’t think they’ve ever really seen him. Some sly Santa who leaves scraps of bills and anxiety on the front porch for us to find. Maybe I am being a bit ridiculous…I certainly didn’t know what time he was scheduled to arrive. But I knew I would be waiting. ‘
I stood by the end of sidewalk that separated freshly paved asphalt and busy broken road. But today, the creaking cars and indifferent drivers must have decided to stay home. The only sound I could hear was the muffled secrets and songs that the leaves and trees sang to one another to pass the time. I didn’t mind. I like the songs they sing. They aren’t full of confused lyrics about politics and social pressures. Just pretty noises free from the weight of the world.
I chose to sit, leaning against the old chunk of wood that held my mailbox higher from the ground. It’s funny when we stop and actually look at something that we’ve passed by thousands of times before. Examining the patterns and designs that never change, but have never been noticed before. Busyness can truly destroy simplicity and basic wonder. Where did this piece of wood come from? It’s probably older than me. Has seen places I’m not even curious about anymore. And now it sits, cemented into the earth, holding a piece of metal that is used for the delivery and departure of paper, lines and lead. But maybe I shouldn’t think too hard about it. It’s just a mailbox. And I’m just the silly boy leaning against it.
I couldn’t tell if time was inching and crawling, or speeding and slipping. At the end of the day it didn’t really matter. I never did see that elusive snake we call mailman. He must have smelled your perfume and grace on the envelope and decided that he wanted it for himself. I can’t blame him, really. Whether the fella had committed a federal offense, or you simply didn’t write the words in the first place, I’ll never know. As the sun started to sink low, I started to imagine the separate pieces that had somehow held me to that spot. The pen that lay untouched on your oak desk. The lined paper that remained neatly stacked by your laptop. The stamp that refused to let go of his family and friends that shared the circular roll in your dresser. The night got colder, and I dreamed that my visible dragon breath was bits and pieces of hope escaping into the sky. Even now I can’t tell you if it was stubbornness or young love that held me to that mailbox. I think they may be the same thing. But I stayed. And the degrees slipped away into the universe, leaving me cold and frozen. A man with nothing but his thin moccasins and whispering trees to keep him company.
I want to believe when he says ‘wait,’ it doesn’t mean he’s not coming.