Upon arriving home later than usual from work yesterday, my share of the day’s mail was resting on the corner of the kitchen table. It never gets much attention right away–there’s wagging tails and little barks beckoning me to drop to the floor for a quick family reunion. There’s the after work must do’s: slipping into more comfortable “I’m finally home clothes,” check in’s and welcomes with my other half, and a host of many other things that have become a routine “upon arrival at your destination” mental checklist. The mail is usually a casual shrug, a glance at what’s become norm: 98 percent junk and 2 percent bills. What fun is that?
It wasn’t always that way. How I didn’t end up being a mailman is a mystery. For years, as a child, I’d sit out on the front porch after lunch and wait for the mail carrier to drive up to the lonely and aged mailbox propped on a painted wooden post on the side of the road. I’d listen as the clump of the mail hit the inside of the box with such precision; the click of the lid closing it all up inside cued me to make a dash for the goods. As the carrier gently accelerated to the next house, I’d be halfway to our box to grab the contents as our house’s resident mailboy. It brought me such joy. I remember how sometimes I’d skip back to the house- so excited to see my parents’ expressions while they sifted through letters, magazines, church correspondence and the occasional parcel. There was an unspoken rule: if Dad was home, he got handed the mail first to sort. If Mom was home, vice versa. I was always fascinated by this “grown up business” and it was a bonus day on the rare occasion there was something for me.
Today, I still like to be the mailman at our house and often get teased when Rick gets home before me and gets the mail. He knows that’s risky. Although the childhood excitement is gone, there is always that lingering “what if” as I size up the pile. What if there’s a letter or a card from someone amidst all the junk and advertisements? What if there’s an unexpected check? (Hey-it doesn’t hurt to dream!) As rare as it is to actually be surprised, these what if’s still get me going.
This morning, as I sat down at the table for breakfast, I saw yesterday’s forgotten pile. I had gotten sidetracked last night by a sick dog, a mad dash to the grocery store for dinner, and a little bit of spying on our neighbors who were mysteriously setting out random pieces of home furnishings on their lawn as the day handed over it’s power to night. We turned in a bit early, exhausted, and the mail had to wait until this morning before I got a chance to rummage through the pile (and peek out at the neighbor’s house, if I must admit).
On top of the pile: a coupon for brake repair. Recycle. Next up: an electric bill (wishing I could discard that one). Next: a Men’s Style Guide from Nordstrom. This caught my attention. I love looking at how the models pose and how ridiculous the settings are in the photographs. I giggle as I think, “oh yeah, that outfit would surely work to wear when I’m scooting across the floor to confer with a reader who has chosen a reading spot not made for 45 year old backs or knees.” I play around with the poses the models make, so serious and well thought out. I imagine the photographer saying, “now for this pose, we want it to seem natural that a man in a thousand dollar suit would be casually sitting on a hillside ledge, looking off into the distance of the California desert, thinking about his upcoming agenda.” I read the advice of the “style guide” and imagine what it would be like to actually live a life with a closet full of fashion and have to decide if today’s the day to pair the paisley shorts with the dark grey mélange shirt. I pause to Google “mélange.” My nose can’t handle the smells of the cologne samples as I leaf through the remaining pages, giving some more attention than others. Finally, I decide to move on. Recycle.
Although yesterday’s pile gave me nothing to write home about, who knows what will arrive in today’s mail? I have 9 hours and counting until I find out!