Got a jolt in my inbox two days ago. Quite the galvanizing visual. Wholly unexpected.
My mailbox. 1288. Oberlin College Mail Room. Wilder Hall.
The same box. Lucite panel smudged per usual, the combination dial fanned out like angel wings or a sun-and-moon carving on a very old gravestone. The knob ribbed around the sides, a cold metal Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Something steampunk about the apparatus. At least I think it’s steampunk. I’m seeing steampunk everywhere since Comic-Con last week.
Since I am an eidetic person, prone to precise encapsulations and reliving of senses and places and dialogue and names and advertisements and pages from decades ago, this image, literal as it as, and remembered acutely, rocked me. What I have in my head is still on the ground, in use, receiving mail. No more cuticle of Scotch tape from a rugby party invitation, but damn, I know just where it stubbornly stayed.
Back then I got a lot of mail. I had epistolary relatives and a boyfriend who sent me cards and letters like some people chew Tums. I looked forward to my mail room visit, which happened daily after lunch. Most days I had mail. Envelopes in profile, visible behind the cloudy window.
I could get misty and in memoriam mode right now, but I won’t. This has been a year of thinking too much about death and shortness of life and time sprinting like a shoeless, manic Kenyan. It goes without saying that the majority of my correspondents have crossed, to employ a New York pastry trope, the Rainbow Cookie Bridge.
I have some letters sent to the box. Envelopes and all. I kept obsessive accordion files back in my salad days. Did you know that phrase is from Antony and Cleopatra?
“…My salad days, / When I was green in judgment, cold in blood.”
I think my judgment was more puce than green — green, to me, is vivifying and lovely, despite the mucous connotations — a faint bloodshot hue. All those late nights writing papers. And yak yak yakking away, into the early morning, cassette tapes flipping, processing and registering what we thought was angst, and trouble.
Daily going to the mail room, with my micro passel of friends, a smallish group, each one right here in my 2012 life. I carry my mailbox in my hand, and every beloved person is a few taps away.