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Thursday, December 22, 2005

How To Open Your Mail, And Why

This morning I woke up with an awful cold. Stacked at the foot of my bed are the boxes of Christmas presents I received the mail, but I don't really need anything right now except the familiar handwriting on the outside of the packages. Maybe -- no, probably -- I won't get around to opening these presents until January comes.

But on the most inaccessible shelf in my closet I have a box filled with over one hundred and eighty old letters. These I received in 1994, the year I taught English in China. I was in the Peace Corps, and oh! I was lonely; a letter filled my life with a glory so bright I could run miles on this feeling, I could practically eat it. Just about every other day, then, in my p.o. box, I found sustenance. But sometimes there'd be stretches when no letters came and each passing day was like the interior of my empty p.o. box: gray and gloomy and small. After one of these stretches, though, maybe five letters would arrive at once and I'd tear them open, one at a time, standing there in front of my p.o. box, a glutton, a crazy person, laughing aloud, tears rolling down my face. Then I'd fold them up and slip them back into their envelopes. In a teahouse I'd read them again, more intently this time, and every interruption was unbearably annoying. When I was finished I'd tuck the letters into the secret pocket inside my jacket and, as the rest of the day passed, I'd think about what they contained and feel their edges. Later, at bedtime, I'd read them once more and then I'd write something back to him, something to make him smile at odd times.

The person who sent those letters is gone, and in his place a new man. Now, he writes to me in a shaky hand I can barely read, about matters I don't understand. This new man seems, at times, to be pleading with me, and at other times he's apologizing for things he never did. And now, I can't reread those old letters he sent to China. It's just too painful. That's what love has done to me.

It's started to rain and I have a pot of coffee going and toast in the toaster. I'm not too sick to get out of bed. I know a place down the street from work where I can buy a hot cup of soup. On mornings like this, that's sustenance enough. It has to be.

Friends, I'll open your gifts which yes, have arrived safely. In time, I'll open them up. The ones I packaged up for you are still on the way.

18 Comments:

Blogger ginab said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:06 PM

 
Blogger lryicsgrl said...

Love can raise you up. Love can knock you down. A world without love is just too sanitary, too clean, we need to get dirty, sometimes.

Your writing is devine.

China.......ah god bless you dear girl!!!
Thank you for really contributing to the world.

Everything happens for a reason??? err Everything happens for a reason!!!

6:05 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Yeah, I deleted my first comment because it was Lame-O. Something to do with waiting until Sunday. Yeah, I said it was lame-o.

But I have been thinking. And here's my idea: you need to hire someone, like famous people do, to open your gifts for you and to read to you the contents. There's bound to be some hand writing inside those packages, for the Ing who tends to tear open presents first and read the card, oopsie, second. That's my Ing.

And the time of year, well it lands in everyone's lap. Different weights, different-sized laps, not always in proportion the portion, but hey...a new day beckons you baby.

I'm with you. Call it telepathic charm. Express.

6:25 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

One of the problems with love is when you turn on the radio and surf, every damn country station has a song about love, and love lost and she done me wrong or I done her wrong and...Old letters are really not for the timid.
Nice post, its true ya know. JW

9:41 PM

 
Blogger JackJumpedOverTheMoon said...

ing,

This was beautiful. I love the way it was written, and the bitter-sweet rememberance of such joy. The twinge of pain. Wow. I really enjoyed this post. So raw and so genuine. Strange what will touch a person, isn't it?

Jack

10:02 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

lzy: you're the best mom in the world, I can just tell.

ginab: I want to hire Elton John for that particular task. Wouldn't that be neato? Keep thinking about your birthday and where we might go. . . I want to have FUN.

Josh: Ween has a good anti-love song on their country album called "Piss Up A Rope." Good, I mean, when the radio's being un-helpful. You ever heard it?

Jack: You sweetie-pie, you! Tomorrow is jazz day. I'll let you know how it goes.

11:12 PM

 
Blogger Chuck Dawson said...

looking down from the bridge: without love in your life insanity's king.

11:18 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:59 PM

 
Blogger jungle jane said...

yeah i'm just about done with my heart too. nice post, ing - you write like an angel.

1:35 AM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

Never heard the song. Like the title of the CD

3:19 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Probably, EJ is beyond your bank, Ing-kitty. Think of someone in the neighborhood about where you are. :-) Maybe someone whose name rhymes with maybe.

I'm not sure where or what I want to be on my fortieth but I do want to have fun. Anyone care to foot the champagne bill?

3:32 PM

 
Blogger josh williams said...

I grabbed a handful of letter openers at the bank the other day. They are Chrismas gifts, a number of my gifts will be handed out in envelopes that have been taped shut so the first person to receive the letter opener will be very popular until they get theirs and then its back to normal. Letter openers are the bomb!

5:42 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

Oopsy, Josh --

The song's called "Piss Up A Rope," the album's called 12 Golden Country Greats. Not their best album, but the song is golden indeed.

5:48 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

ginab

Someone in my neighborhood whose name rhymes with maybe. . . Wait, Abie? Like, Abie Lincoln? Umm. . . baby? Scabies? Gabey (Kaplan)?

I give up.

5:55 PM

 
Blogger ing said...

Josh: I like your gift idea. I don't mean to be a huge copycat, but how about this: send everyone a postage-due package containing enough stamps to cover the cost of the post. Make sure all recipients live in a commune. The first one to open their package gets to be the new guru.

6:00 PM

 
Blogger ginab said...

Baby cakes, doll, what have you!

9:58 PM

 
Blogger matty said...

Love is the toughest thing of all. As lzygrl wrote -- it can make you feel like you're floating on air and then it crashes you face down into a hot asphalt road.

I'm sorry you've got a cold. And, I'm very sorry you're feeling blue.

You know, maybe opening up a few of those presents might make you feel a little better? You never know. How nice that you have so many people who love you to send you gifts!

if I could, i would bring over my hello kitty toaster oven that my pal just gave me for xmas and I would make you hello kitty imprinted toast with your fave jam and hot tea!

Feel better!

Did you go dancing?!?!?

happy christmas!
matt

11:30 PM

 
Blogger Piers said...

How intimate strangers become; polyphony as pomace (same page in my dictionary).

9:31 PM

 

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