by Tiffany James
She once lived within the foreign heart of its existence; her imagination undimmed by familiarity. Somehow, she knew when her dad first pulled up to her new home that it, not the house, was special. Although wounded and worn, it stood proudly on the strength of its wooden leg, its upper body intensified by a fresh coat of glossy black paint. It was a gentle giant, waiting eagerly to teach her the magic of discovery. She recalled the day when her dad excitedly announced that they were moving.
“You girls are going to love it!” A grin lit up his face as he continued, “It’s a three-story house with an attic, basement, and main floor. It’s a cute, red colored brick home! It also have three small circular bushes that look like green clouds placed strategically underneath the three huge windows positioned in the front of the house. And one last thing—we have our very own mailbox!”
Unfortunately, her dad’s hopeful prospects of her reaction fell short due to a crucial difference between her (now old) home compared to the description of their new house. That is, they were moving from their apartment on the 13th floor of a high-rise building located in downtown Chicago, where from the top bunk of her bedroom she had a clear view of the vast, yet tranquil Lake Michigan. Lost within the endless fields of her innermost thoughts, she would sit for an hour before her bedtime envisioning God’s spirit hovering over the face of the water. The lake was her inner calm and knew her deep seated thoughts, her troubles submerged in its placid center.
At first, her dad’s announcement brought dread not excitement. Her young mind could not comprehend the importance of owning a home; as the only thing on her mind was one question, “Would the Spirit of God hover over the new house?”
With God she never felt alone, and the thought of Him not being able to find something so mysteriously ancient and divine as Lake Michigan to display His unseen beauty to her was daunting. Yet, when she pulled up to the house there was a sense of peace that rested on it—her new mailbox. She leapt out of the car, her chest fluttering with excitement. Without a doubt, she had to be the first to introduce herself. And with her small, dry hands running across the tip of its back, toward the top of its head and down to its face she slowly opened its mouth—it smiled with delight as she arched her back, leaning her face into the stuffiness of its breath as her voice echoed, “Hello.”
From that day forward, she made it her personal responsibility to check on the mailbox every day, impressed by its ability to hold unexpected disappointments, opportunities, and beautiful surprises from countless people and places encased safely in its bosom, protective of them all. There was never a complaint—its lip never poked out, leaving their mail vulnerable to the strangers that often strolled by admiring the gold badge of honor that read 2018, representing the house it was loyal to. There was not a squeak despite the constant badgering of rain upon it back. It was her best friend. She never failed to visit it daily and in return, its unmatched wisdom never failed to let her in on the secrets it held, revealing the constant awe of its existence.
It never occurred to her that one day it would not be there to receive the wordless lessons it taught her. For example: never be afraid to open your heart to those you love, great things often come in small packages, delayed does not mean denied, there is something new everyday, take the good with the bad, and always be open to the unexpected. Daily it opened itself up and allowed her into its heart despite what was inside. Now, a new lesson was emerging as the old mailbox’s leg started to give out, made brittle by the harsh jealousy of the wind. She often wondered if the wind envied the fact that it was only felt, not caressed or cared for by human hands like the mailbox was. Though, no matter how powerful and admired the wind was, it did not have the integrity of the mailbox. Mailboxes had the strength to remain faithful to one family day in and day out requiring no applause or accolade.
However, after years of being bullied by the rain and the wind, she could not help but notice the swelling in its knees and how it was slowly buckling. Oh how fragile it had become! She was afraid no matter how tender, her touch would cause its demise. For years, she had cared for it as a mother cares for a child regardless of age. There is an unexplainable bond when you give life and purpose to something. In the same manner, there is an unspeakable sorrow when you must let go, uncertain of its fate. When you have poured all that you can into that beautiful creation, you must trust that it is ready to take on a life of its own and evolve into something greater than you could have ever envisioned. Tears swelled to the brim of her eyelids as she gazed at its body, riddled with rusted scars, the soil unable to support its full, yet fragile weight. Left with no choice, and with her bare hands and one last embrace, she carefully pulled it up, dismembering its leg. Melancholic, she placed it in the back of her dad’s truck and watched him drive away.
She never knew what became of her mailbox, but she can only imagine.