Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The post and my very tender thoughts on it.

Last night I was caught off guard by this commercial:

I went from happily sipping whiskey and watching Chopped to the wanting to curl up under a quilt and cry.

This little thirty second ad said only one thing to me: The Post is in danger.

Now... you might have seen me around on the internet. I spend a lot of time there. Facebook, twitter, tumblr, this blog, your inbox, your mom's inbox. I get around online. I'm not ashamed of it. I've met friends, enemies, girlfriends, experts, celebrities, and probably your mom online that I likely would not ever have bumped into in any other way. The internet is my medium. I get it. I use it.

But. It's not the post.

The post is dreamy and romantic and personal and requires effort.

I can sit in my office and write you an email that says, "I'm thinking about you today."

You'll get the email in seconds. You'll smile, maybe, then it's done.

If I, on the other hand, write the very same message, "I'm thinking about you today." in a card or on a piece of stationery, seal it in an envelope, hunt down your address and a stamp, drive the whole lot to the post office (because my apartment pick-up is unreliable), and send it off in your direction, then you'll receive it in a very different way.

You'll get my card, open it, and know that for at least a bit of one day, I was thinking only about you and the piece of mail that would literally travel from my hands to yours. And then for weeks when you see it on your fridge or maybe a year later when it shows up in a junk drawer, you'll know that I was thinking about you then and just might be thinking about you again.

And... if the piece of mail is from me... then you might be able to tell that instead of spending minutes on your mail, I actually spent hours. Gluing paper, revising wording, baking treats, compiling songs, what have you.

Whatever the case... mailing something to someone means a lot more to me than sending them a text, a message on Facebook, a tweet. Those are daily. Those are tired.

The post. The post is where it's at.

It's no secret that this love of the post was passed down to me by my mom. My mom sends me roughly one card per week. Some weeks there's more than one. Some weeks (very rare) there isn't one at all.

Her cards range from the sincere to the bizarre.

Some of my favorites include the congratulations on my ballet recital and the mazel tov on my son's bris. Also the "Love being your sister" and the countless "Happy Birthday"s covered up with hearts and flowers and swirlies.

The common thread woven through these often silly cards is the fact the my mom loves me and that she thinks about me in a deliberate, focused way at least once a week.

Even so... I'm not the only person who benefits from my mom's postal expressions of love.

My brother, sister, boyfriend, and even some friends benefit from the occasional card. She recently sent one to a close friend of mine that featured a hotdog on the front and the inscription, "Bet you didn't think you'd get a wiener today!"

Don't you wish you were on her list now?

What I'm saying is... I love the post. Always have.

As a kid, I thought having a British pen pal was the best thing I could ever want out of life. As an adult, I've only slightly revised that idea.

My mom fuels my love for the post through her regular mailings. And I do my best to send notes and packages around as often as possible.

The thought that the USPS might be in such dire straights that they need to convince us to use paper in a world that begs us to go paperless is upsetting.

I've long thought of the post as the government's polite, "I'm going that way, would you like me to take that?" and I'd hate to see it waste away.

So... today I'm going to write letters. And buy stamps. And drop mail into the box knowing full well it will reach its destination and make one person feel good. Or better. Or something. Because that's what I do with the power of the post.

What do you mail?


timidvenus said...

oh, i would LOVE to mail you, dear.

I have always been a fan of real mail. I am a believer in postcards. When I was in college I had this boyfriend that lived about an hour away, and he was living with his parents at the time. We didn't see each other often because he worked on his father's orange grove so kept odd hours (up at 4am, in bed by 8pm) and I was a student so couldn't hang out during the day, so I wrote him postcards. Every day. I would send them at my break around lunch (there was a post office on campus), and he would get them a day or two later, and only after his mother would read them. They both loved them. His mom would tell me when I would come over that she looked forward to walking down to the mailbox (they have one of those long, dirt, country road driveways) and reading it on her way back to the house. She still talks about those postcards. Luckily our break-up was a good one, and he and I are still friends.

So, this past summer, in June, my cousin entered a home for suicidal teens and young adults. I decided that I would do the postcard thing again (makes it easier for the staff there to go through it), although not daily because he is only allowed his mail once a week and I don't want it to seem overwhelming, and that my daughter, Georgia would do it as well. We send something off to him here and there, and I am glad to get to write him.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents.

Boyfriend said...

1. You know how I feel about the post. It's similar to you, but, well, nerdier.
2. I've never loved the post so much as I do now that I get stuff from you.

Amanda said...

tv: What a great use of the post! To write postcards that your bf and his mother loved must have been quite a feat. And now to encourage your cousin while simultaneously teaching Georgia to love the post too. Gah. Good work, there.

Dear boyfriend: I'm positive I told you Bridget got the first wiener card.

Anonymous said...

I love you like crazy!!! <3 your mom

Kaitlin said...

Aw, I loved this piece of writing. I also thoroughly enjoy any/all mail that I've received from you. Even when you forget to put the note inside the box and have to tape it to the outside.

G said...

I remember one time when I got mail from you, and it was SO AMAZING (I'm still marveling over the packaging of the whole thing).

I love to mail notes, cards, pictures, packages ... I just haven't been very good at it lately. The feeling of getting something in the mail that ISN'T a bill or junk mail is one I'd describe as pure giddiness on my part.

The other thing about this is that those pieces of mail are concrete memories/personal historical references. My mom saved all the letters I wrote to her while I was in boot camp and later gave them to me. I'd forgotten so many parts of my experience until I re-read the letters I wrote. It was like MAGIC.

Amanda said...

Kaitlin: Notes are hard to remember!

G: Boot camp letters are a special kind of tender, aren't they? I think it's the is-she-still-alive nervous energy that exists between those once a week gems.

And, yes, pure giddiness.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog recently but I had to write because I love this post. Thank you for writing it, and for making me want to act on my long-time affection for writing and sending notes. My issue is always lack of stationary. Something you have now inspired me to act on. Time to send some notes to loved ones. :)