Forget periods, bar mitzvahs, or the legal voting age, I think I became an adult when I started dreading getting mail.
There is nothing worse than a bunch of sealed envelopes filled with notes form people I might have to pay or may have already paid, mixed in with sealed envelopes filled with advertisements and sealed envelopes filled with scams, mixed in with the occasional sealed envelope with a letter from my grandmother in it. I have a vague memory of mail being all about getting birthday cards full of money, but now I mostly get birthday cards from former dentists and they never have money in them, just notes about how a birthday is a good time to schedule an annual cleaning.
In Portland I would wait so long to check the mail that the mailman (he was a man, I met him) would sort through it and throw away my junk mail, to make more space in the mailbox. I thought this was a service USPS provided that everyone made use of, but a few people have told me I was wrong about that.
I also thought moving would be a way to escape mail, but apparently I was wrong about that too. There is just as much mail. The only difference is now all of it is in a language we can’t read.
When a piece of mail arrives here I can tell it’s going to be about one of the following things:
Just kidding I don’t have a clue what it’s about!
It could be a bill, it could be an insurance form, a ransom note, a contest entry, a poem, a bank statement, or an invitation to a birthday party.
I don’t even know which part of the letter is the salutation: I just realized this week that the word I thought was the name of our insurance company is actually just the word for “city.” Or it can also mean township or village, or just an area people live in.
This week I needed to mail a form to a museum and I didn’t really understand any of the form, but it seemed to say I could put it in an envelope, write the address on the envelope, and then put the envelope in a mailbox with no stamp. That seemed ridiculous, so I wrote the address and then went to buy a stamp. As I was about to put the stamp on, the woman I’d bought the stamp from glanced over at my envelope and said that address didn’t need a stamp.
Weird, I told her, that’s the same thing the form inside this envelope said.
“This word is how you know” she said, pointing to a ten-syllable word that looked like all the other words on the envelope.
So there you go. Now I have a stamp in my pocket that I’m saving for later.
I’m not sure how to end this except to say that if someone gives you three wishes today and you have one to spare, and you use one to wish that we get less mail, I will be forever indebted to you. I will not miss those birthday cards from any of my former dentists, I will not miss the sealed envelopes full of advertisements, and I will not miss the mail we’re getting now, whatever it is.
Sometimes it’s nice out lately, here’s a photo.