The Mail

Dear J-

Since I’ve returned from Nashville (now nearly a week) I still haven’t quite gotten around to cleaning off the camera or submitting my receipts or … let’s just leave it at this: there’s a lot I have left to do. All the administrative items that I don’t bother doing, that’s all. It feels vaguely overwhelming at times, too, but perhaps that’s just the laziness talking, as it often does this time of night. Day. Plus there’s the whole “stayed up too late again” which isn’t helping much either. Life, yes? Or no. We still have a lot of road left to travel, so let’s not jump the gun and be too hasty. The biggest chores I have are neither chores nor required, but only for the sake of my own mental health. Let me explain.

I like receiving physical mail, despite all its disadvantages (hand-written, slow transmission, subject to getting lost or damaged along the way) compared to the emails I’ve written in the past twenty or so years. There is still something magical about receiving something physical, tangible that left another person’s hand, to say nothing of all the hands it has passed through on its way to you: a network of collections and routes and though the routing of electrons is no less mystical (I remember, having put together cross-country circuits not so long ago; has it already been fifteen years since I started that job?), there’s something with a deeper, more caring meaning perhaps, in the sending of the physical.

I used to love the physical trappings of the mail, too: we had special thin paper set aside for overseas deliveries (saving on weight) along with blue-and-red deckled edge envelopes for air mail (par avion, naturally) left over from how many years I’ll never know, and stamps, oh stamps dating back several postage rate increases, strange designs from the past resurfacing in a very tangible sort of time travel. You’d think the content wouldn’t even matter at that point, but content is king and within a single page you’d be able to find pithy gems to delight in, unexpected words waiting for your discovery every next tomorrow.

Mike

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