I once camped beside the mailbox waiting for a small, bubble-wrapped baby panda to arrive. I’d paid my mother’s hard-earned cash to Adopt Wildlife, and I’d be there to greet my bear baby’s gaze the moment she plopped off the mail truck. “Orphan no more,” I’d whisper in her ear. She’d coo and nibble on my fingers and probably nuzzle and lick her underparts. I’d understand her foreign tongue to mean “Mama, I love you”. It took months of this dedicated vigil before I had to close the rusted tin mailbox door. It was a meaningless shell, empty and hollowed, barren and so arid no fruitful packages would ever be born. Every day with the courier’s arrival, hope was stirred up from the bottom of my belly, swelling and soaring, excited dreams of what the mailbox held for me overflowing until my young hands shook with anticipation. Today would be the day, I remember thinking. Today, I’ll get my panda. Today I’ll become a mother. Today, the Lord of Lick-N-Seal Envelopes shall shine upon thee! Every one of those wishful todays brought bland mortgage letters or utility bills and sent that wave of enthusiasm swallowed and crashing down until it punched the gut. In time my Special Delivery did arrive. Some four months later a World Wilderness organization sent me a letter sloppily printed on glossy cardstock. No needy infant paws to hold. No tiny dagger teeth to nibble the tip from my plastic baby doll bottles. No love. No love. No love. My adoption fee, as misfortune would have it, was something of a “donation”. I’d sponsored a meal or a chew toy for a mystery panda somewhere left of Ocean and Asian. That sorrowful afternoon I learned of the harsh truths of this world: that pandas cost more than $30 and are never shipped Standard Air Mail, and that losing something you’d so desperately anticipated is worse than having never wanted that something at all. I moved all of my double-lined notebook paper to my kitty cat folder, threw the cartoon panda one in the garbage, and lowered my expectations to near-nothingness.
In the years since losing the furry firstborn, I’ve assumed I will never get a postage-stamped goody. This assumption made me sad most days, hurt-but-outwardly flippant other days (Pfft. I don’t even care about mail. Mail be trippin’. I be like “Mail? Whatevs”), and on rare occasions secretly soul-cartwheel-ing when the odd care package was shipped my way.
My sweet Nana sent me clogs, wool cabin socks, and a toothbrush when I was in college. It was a hot and sticky May in Memphis and I hadn’t worn such tiny shoes since 5th grade graduation, but I savored the smell of the cardboard box meant just for me. I pet the foam packaging peanuts like delicate orphan panda babies. I brushed my teeth three times a day, and Howard (Henry?Holmes? Hobbit?) the homeless man on the corner looked downright delighted (or confused) when I thrust the heavy, scratchy socks from my car window.
Later, I rushed out to snag a glittery dress upon fetching a fancy wedding invitation from the mail. While the names looked unfamiliar, I resolved that “if the box says it’s so, it’s so”. Real, stamped and inked mail tucked neatly in my mail slot surely wouldn’t lie. Forty-two dollars on a sassy, sequined number, two angry next door neighbors, and one lecture on opening mail that doesn’t have your name on it, my spirit was only slightly dampened. The thrill of easing down the door, opening the curtain, and finding something special waiting there was enough to make me forget when I missed the Hammond/ Dresdick Wedding I wasn’t invited to a couple of months later.
Last Spring I stood barefoot and face drooped to hands beside the large, brick mailbox. I wept. I cried like a lady who was hoping for a panda but only got a pamphlet. But this time? This time I sobbed because I’d thought not to hope only to find it neatly bundled, knotted and stamped and mailed with love and perched so suddenly and shockingly in my mail bin. My friend Roochi, years,countries, and ponds away from me, left a small note. Well wishes for the bride and groom, a copy of the official London newspaper covering the Will & Kate wedding hoopla, British bridal mags, and- my heart can’t take such sweetness!- bags and more bags of scrumptious candies. So many years later, I’d for once expected nothing (some bills, some coupon clippers, maybe a note from my dentist on a particularly awesome day). I fully expected nothing, opened the door, and was swept sideways from all the love ‘come pouring out. I might not have a panda. I might have severe complexes centered around seeking love from inanimate parcels. But gosh darn it, I have folks who take the time and a stamp to show they care.
This week, my faith in
the postal system humanity received another boost when I found a bounty of beautiful waiting to greet me at driveway’s end. Thanks for filling my Bloggy Wedding Wonder Wall with your brilliant contributions… and filling a panda-shaped void in my heart.
Karen Snyder is a constant source of wisdom and humor. She sent a lovely reminder that marriage really does come down to shuttin’ that pie hole. Tom heaved a sigh and an “A to The Men” upon reading it. Karen, you already had a friend in me. Now you’ve won the Mister over, too!
” To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.”
Fans of Lisa Kramer’s Woman Wielding Words already know she has such a way with words. Knowing as I did, I was still floored that she took such time to craft a poem just for us. Talent seems to suit her, I suppose, because she crafted a sweet, Southern style frame to hold her rhyming masterpiece!
The MaChickChicks (as I affectionately call them as I have NO clue how to properly spell that last name) are a funky couple who are, for lack of a cooler word, SUPER COOL. Marty creates gorgeous architectural paintings, Dana is a vegan-baking, thrift store -scoring, joke cracking writer. Together, they bring their hipness to the harbor, and lead incredibly interesting lives. Dana, who you know from her hilarious & healthy blog, zona pellucida, was kind enough to call in reinforcement for her ribbon wall contribution. Her mother offered up her gorgeous calligraphy skills, they shared a personal wedding photo with me along with a note/ reminder not to worry too much in the way of living so traditionally, and…wait for it… Tucked into a tiny, Canadian envelope beside their photo was American money. It’s like a really artsy magic trick minus the creep factor of Cris Angel peeking at you from beneath his shaggy, black-as-death bangs. The photo’s worth a thousand words and some dollars, but really left me speechless.
This weekend I am headed to a party I’m actually invited to. I’m packing a dress for ladylike‘s sake and a pocket full of parcels as a reminder that when we least expect it, we’re shown a whole lot of love.
Want to dress up my ribbon wall/ help me heal from losing a pandaughter?
Send your bloggy wedding contributions to:
Tori “I Like & Lick Stamps” Nelson
PO Box 11241
For the low, low cost of one postage stamp, you can *adopt a strand of lonely, abandoned ribbon.
*Terms and conditions may vary.
Ribbon is ribbon and cannot legally be adopted, dummy.
Even if it could, ribbon can’t do any cool tricks like normal kids
such as hurling spit balls, pooping pants,snore-singing, sofa surfing, etc.
Fine print, fine print, yada, yada, yada.
I wouldn’t camp out by the mailbox if I were you.