Monday, October 11, 2010

The Mailbox

One. Once upon a time I saw a horrible movie about an old woman whose husband had passed, whose children never took the time to visit her and urged her to move into a retirement home. Knowing she would be unhappy there, the old woman stayed in her house and took care of herself, but daily felt the pains of isolation and loneliness, desperate for any companionship, any conversation.  Every day she would check the mailbox to see if anyone was out there who cared for her, and who cared enough to write her a letter.   Every day she checked but every day she would come up empty-handed.  Meanwhile, her children would call, only to try to convince their mother to move into a home. 

One day the old woman walked her daily walk to the mailbox to find a letter from one of her children. At last! They really did care about her! They sent her a letter in the mail!  What joy this one letter brought her. She brought it inside, sat in a chair and held it, treasured it.  Moments later, before opening the letter, the old woman suffered a heart attack and died.  She died happy, having finally received a letter, knowing she was loved.  

Turns out, the letter was a message from one of her children saying they had gone ahead and made arrangements for her to move into a retirement home anyway, despite her wishes.

The End.  That's how the movie ends.

Maybe it's this movie that inspired me, long ago when i saw it at far too young an age.  Maybe that was the purpose, to show it to young minds and instill in them a sense of guilt or obligation to be mindful of the elderly and lonely.  Or, perhaps it is just a love of writing, and also stickers.  I will assume it is a combination of these things, but something I love to do is write letters.  I appreciate the small bit of happiness that accompanies a hand-written note in the mail.  It's a dying art, as they say, and lest it die altogether, and lest anyone i know die from the joy a long-awaited letter received can apparently cause, I am determined to keep the art alive, and write letters to those I care about.   And that's my first general thought regarding mailboxes, at present.

Two.  One day I came out and opened the building's mailbox. We have a community mailbox for the 4 apartments that are contained within.  Many letters arrive addressed to people who no longer live here.  I don't pay much notice and let the landlord take care of them.   On this one day, however, I checked the mailbox while i was on my way out and came upon the most glorious name ever to ring through my eyes. I have yet to decide how i will use this name. I am a little hesitant to even say it here, for fear someone will steal it, or that the woman herself will google search herself and find my blog and somehow be ill-affected by that.  However, i'm willing to take this risk to share this name, that, like a letter, may give some joy to those who read it.  I might use it as an alias, maybe in a time of emergency? I don't know. But here it is.

Mrs. Zita Hudnut.

I gasped aloud, looking around me to see if anyone else saw the name, and repeated it over and over in my mind so that, whatever happened--if it was thrown out before i returned home-- i would remember this name.    Mrs. Zita Hudnut.  This woman had to be someone special.  I love this name.  It's the best name i've ever heard. And somehow, it's incomplete without the Mrs.   I often think about Mrs. Zita Hudnut, especially when times are difficult, when I can't seem to be able to do something, and i think, Mrs. Zita Hudnut would know what to do.  Zita Hudnut would know the right way to do it. She wouldn't give up.  And it keeps me going.  I owe a lot to her.
Dear Mrs. Hudnut, who are you? One day i'd like to meet you, and talk about life and thoughts and philosophies, about how it was to live in this building, and how it was growing up in the world, having such a name.

 Three. The third and final thought i have about mailboxes is this:  I hate it when, after buying one measley thing from some weird company--just one!-- i have to pay the ultimate price by being embarrassed every time i open the community mailbox and see that all the stupid weird catalogues have my name on them. I've gotta take out a subscription to The New Yorker or something just to convince my neighbors I'm not completely lame.


Alanna said...

Some day PLEASE write a novel that includes this person. That is a GREAT name.

I have my own for my novel that I will some day write-- my neighbor once explained to me that they had a daughter named Tiffany, and then they adopted a little girl who was already named Tiffany, so they just had two girls named Tiffany! In order to differentiate, they called them Big Tiff and Little Tiff. Truth is WAY more fun than anything I could make up!

lindsey v said...

Too late! I'm stealing the name...
Just kidding. I have a name that I've come across that pops into my mind every now and then. But I DON'T like it. I wish it would leave me alone.
Wray Scanchy.
(Pronounced "skanky")
(Sorry if anyone knows this person.)

Joel said...

Our mailbox is on our house instead of out on the street, and I think the mailman resents having to get out of the truck and walk up the driveway. He often skips our house, and sometimes won't take our outgoing mail even when he's putting mail in there.

I'm sorry, mailman, I would change the box if I could! Don't hate us because of the decisions of our forebears!

Amber Alvarez said...

I don't have a mailbox. I have a slot on the door. Everything gets scooped together in one big pile on the floor.

When I first moved in I would be very careful to make sure all mail was addressed to me, 'Apt. 2'. When I realized it didn't really matter since everyone's mail is all stuffed in together anyway, I transitioned to 'top floor'.

A few months ago a letter came addressed to me with the word 'penthouse' attached to it. I've adopted that as my true address. I love knowing that my downstairs neighbors are bothered by the fact that it's kinda true.

Also, there's a girl in my building named Shady Shahassma, it's no Zita Hudnut, but it's a start.