I love the Post Office. The variety and volume of messages that passes through this system astonishes me. Raunchy postcards, thoughtful gifts (thanks for the Cuisinart, Mom), long letters and funny cards are often the best part of my week. The intentionality and human interaction it takes to send physical mail is taken for granted these days, myself included.
No matter where I’ve lived, letter writing has been a practice of mine. I think it stems from all those holiday cards I was forced to sign and write “personal notes” in as a child. I can’t imagine what six-year-old me had to say to my great-great aunt Moo Moo about St. Patrick’s Day, but write and send the cards we did.
It is also my practice of finding home. While I lived in the same house, in the same town, throughout my childhood, my adult life has been punctuated by regular moves about every two years. As I’ve made my way across the country I’ve been supremely lucky with the communities I found. From California to New Orleans, from El Salvador to Boston, there are people I love and miss scattered around the globe. But there’s always a post office.
Through writing to “my people” I am forming my home. Thus far, my home is made up of faces, not walls or streets. In putting pen to paper I am building another pillar, window seat, dining table.
It is also impermanent. I keep no record of my letters, nor do I expect them to be kept forever (just please recycle). I find such freedom in that. The thoughts, love, anguish, questions and observations cannot be catalogued by gmail or searched through on anyone’s “timeline.” Mail can be, however, tucked in an odd place; shoved in the back of a drawer, forgotten in a winter jacket, only to be rediscovered anew – sometimes years later.
These small, physical items seem to hold a piece of their author. No matter how silly or mundane, I run them through my fingers and think about that person. I may not have a forever home yet, but I have forever people.
In this spirit, I will also be sending regular ‘dispatches’ this year. If you’d like one (it may be a letter, a drawing of a robo-platypus, or an envelope filled with glitter that will cover your house until the end of time), just message me your address if you think I don’t have it. This week: