I’ve found myself, as of late, sort of wandering around town in various levels of being totally disheveled and/or confused about everything, then saying to people, “I’m sorry, I just moved.” It’s something I’ve said for the past few weeks and something I will probably keep saying for the next few, well, years. Because, let’s face it, moving is both the best and the worst. It’s a chance at starting fresh in a new place, one that isn’t packed to the crown molding with memories. But it also means living in a totally new place, and one that’s unfamiliar, all the way to the crown molding. Every inch of every corner is a surprise. And, if you happen to live in a college town, as I do, the surprises aren’t always exactly pleasant. As in, Surprise! You can’t use your kitchen cabinets because they smell like the grim specter of death! Surprise, you can’t use your bathroom cabinet either because DOUBLE SURPRISE, BLACK MOLD! Surprise, these walls are constructed entirely of asbestos and the bubonic plague! And so forth.
There are a lot of things I miss about my old place: the usable cabinets, the absence of the grim specter of death, the screened porch, the frat
boys shooting arrows at a tree outside of my screened porch. But if there’s one thing I miss more than anything else, it’s my mailman.
How do you even know your mailman? you’re probably thinking. Well, remember that college town part? I mean, small college town. Which means a lack of certain amenities, such as actual grocery stores or Targets. You know, things that are necessary for basic survival. Which also means, of course, that I’ve been forced to spend quite a bit of time shopping online. You know, for basic survival. It was necessary.
And so, I got to know my mailman. He was always kind and never judged and agreed that yes, one can never have enough shoes. He realized
that I tended to write on my back porch in the summer and so he brought me my packages there. One day, he caught me crying after a Very Bad Telephone Conversation and he asked how I was. He said he didn’t know what was going on, but he could promise that it’d get better — and he came by to ask how I was the next day. When I broke my foot, he asked how I was and even sometimes brought my non-package-style mail to me, if it looked important. He asked about my cats, who eventually even stopped running away and acted like completely insane beasts when he knocked. When I had surgery, he told my mother that he’d been worried because no one had answered the door for a while. He asked how I was every time she answered the door. He always smiled, he always said hello, and he was always incredibly kind.
They were all small things, just very small things, but they made a very big difference in my life, and at a time in my life when I felt very lost. And maybe, in the end, it’s the small things that matter — because, when you think of it, a life of such small kindnesses is a very big thing.
The jury’s still out on my new mailman. He seems very nice and he always smiles. Still, I can’t help but miss my old mailman — and I can’t help but wish I would’ve thanked him more often for all of the kind things he probably didn’t even realize he was doing — which makes him all the more deserving of thanks.