There was a time in the not so distant past when one of the highlights of the day was walking out to the mailbox, reaching inside and pulling out all kinds of fun stuff. Letters and cards from friends and family, cool catalogs, more letters and cards, unexpected missives from long-lost acquaintances, and more letters and cards.
Now there’s nothing in there but the most boring of bills, shiny ad campaigns that go straight into the recycling bin, and credit card offers by the dozens. The mailbox is now a mere receptacle for the useless and mundane. Hardly anything fun is found there anymore.
It’s found on our computers instead. Birthday greetings come via cyberspace. Long last friends find us on Facebook. Staying in touch with someone means emailing them. The Inbox is the new Mailbox. That thing at the end of my driveway, which used to be the bearer of glad tidings, holiday wishes, and glossy catalogs, is now the receptacle where the truly boring bills go (those you don’t even want to pay online), promotional pieces that hold as much attraction as a cup of hot chocolate on the Fourth of July, and of course the ceaseless offers to bury me in new credit cards.
The thing is, I am okay with that. I love trees. I hate overflowing landfills. Paperless commerce has its value. But I am not okay with is what I’m left with: truly useless stacks of paper that move from my boring mailbox to the recycling bin in a matter of minutes. Going to the mailbox is now a chore. It is the act of moving trash from one bin to another. And that is not fun.
I still catch myself still getting a wee bit excited when I reach my hand in: Maybe today will be different. Or I will watch my husband walking up the driveway with The Mail in his hands, and I will wonder: Is he holding something fun in his hands? But every time, (okay, maybe nine times out of ten) he plops the detritus on the kitchen table, winks at me, and sez, “Here’s the mail!”
There is no alternative, of course. I know this. I know we will not go backwards. I just need to let go of the illusion – once and for all – that the mailbox is a place where fun things are found. The mailbox is no longer Santa Claus sitting on a two-by-four.
It’s the end of an era, and I need to remember it fondly and release the happy mailbox into the archives of things the Internet (which I am fully aware I am using to write all this) has swallowed and digested.
The thing at the end of my driveway is not the place to go to look for affirmation. Best accept it. And check my Facebook account more often . . .