December 14, 2006

It is crisp out and the brown-dry leaves that crunch like potato chips beneath my feet easily crumble into powder at each footstep. It is well past autumn and in the lamplight, the dry snow billows and swirls on the sidewalk and sticks to the sides of buildings. It’s cold, I’ve forgotten my gloves, and my finger tips are freezing.

“I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but I need to tell you I am moving on in my life.”

“What is it?”

“I am getting married.”

I have not told her I am getting married. There is something that prevents me from being so honest with her.

I sleep better on my couch than in my bed these days. I lay awake and listen to the trucks pass on the street and the planes fly overhead. When the silence gets to me, I throw on my coat and go for a walk.

I find myself on a street corner and climb up on to the mailbox to sit for a while. It is slippery and I am not as young as I used to be. By the time I get situated on its rounded top, I realize my seat is already freezing. But it is somewhat romantic or sentimental to me to sit lonely on the mailbox top in the depths of the night, so I stay for a while. My legs dangle over the edge, my trench coat drapes over its sides, and from my vantage point I can see in the darkness a lone car passing a bridge.

If I lived in the country I would sit in the unruly grass leaning against the crooked post of an old mailbox waiting for the postman to arrive. Sun would stream down and bask my face in warmth and splendor. The idea is the same, and I enjoy the slowness of the moment.

“Every time I talk with you I always feel better.”

“That’s nice. Likewise…”

“I miss talking to you; it is rare to meet someone whom everything feels so right.”

“I know.”

It is nearly dawn when I get home.

I had forgotten to check the mail. Day after day I put the key into its slot and open my unit in the bank of boxes on the wall. Each day I get advertisements, credit card applications and catalogs. Occasionally there is a bill, but in an age of email and cell phones, there is almost never a letter.

I dig into my mailbox and pull a few envelopes with the holiday catalogs. Some bills, a post card for a computer company and a coupon book for local stores.

A Christmas card arrives. Her children are beautiful.

A light rain falls and turns the streetlamp upon the dark asphalt to glass.