You've Got Mail
The start of a new year is like moving into a new apartment. You think of all the things you could do with the new space … two, three, no – FOUR potted plants by the window, framed art on the walls, an off-white sofa because all of Pinterest and Instagram shows that black, white, gray and maybe a gentle splash of pastel pink or powder blue is what’s rocking the world of likes and hearts. And then you get overwhelmed with all the ideas and then you realize you don’t have the money for that world of likes and hearts (stick to the cream-colored coffee cups and artistically arranged books, lady).
The start of a new year, then, maybe, is like the start of a long class. You walk into it all bright and fresh and determined, tossing away a finished cup of strong tea and settle down onto a gray seat. You whip out your striped notebook, open a new page, write a neat title in the center and start taking notes. In the beginning your writing is tidy and you continue scribbling everything, sectioning the important parts, maybe even highlighting (if not then definitely underlining) and then as the session drones on, your writing wavers, becomes really untidy, more like you dipped an ant in ink, blindfolded it (with a teeny tiny blindfold) and set it off on your page, it slopes off, trailing away, and eventually, instead of the different theories on why individuals engage in deviant behavior, you end up drawing fluffy clouds with big smiles or big-headed stick figures.
But right now, it’s the neat handwriting part. I think.
I’ve spent four days prepping myself to take the 22-minute bus ride to the nearest decent gym, and today the sun came out and I didn’t even have my office job and I found my gym pants. So really, I have no excuse except utter laziness and whininess.
Also, I think today was a good day because I ate a pain au chocolat (I don’t know why they write the name in French in all the coffee shops. I never know how to pronounce it so sometimes I go with ‘chocolate croissant’ and at others, ‘the chocolate thing’ while pointing in the right direction) AND I got mail!
Not to brag or anything, but I get a lot of mail here. Probably more in three months than the almost three years spent in Karachi, even if you take out all the bills and the lady in apartment 5’s mail that gets put in our box (she has an Indian-sounding name so maybe someone just stuffs the envelopes in our mailbox thinking those neighbours also look brown). Part of it is probably our lack of faith in Pakistan’s postal system, and the distance too … Europe kinda puts you in the middle, so easier to reach from all sides…
And getting a card with your name on it, scribbled in handwriting you recognize, stamped and slipped in like magic right outside your door – it sure makes you smile, like rainbows and dark chocolate and an old man making a funny face at a baby on the bus to make the baby laugh.
I guess anything that happens rarely, or at best occasionally, tends to be treasured all the bit more. Like rain in Karachi and sunny days in Nottingham; weekends when you work a 9-5 job; ordering cheese pizza and eating it in bed; winning a raffle or getting free samples in a new bakery; walking outside on a bright day when you’ve been driving in bad traffic in sweaty Karachi or slouching in a car seat that warms up after a minute and takes you right outside the grocery store and even holds your grocery bags for you when you’ve been taking the bus everywhere. You want to boost anything’s worth, just cut down its frequency in your life. See how a cup of tea tastes at the end of a long day rather than the beginning… Of course this doesn’t apply to everything … like math … or measles. Doesn’t matter how little of it you get, it makes you feel awful.
But cards! Now that’s a pleasant thing to get, buy, write and send. It’s actually pretty easy for me, I mean, I practically live next door to the post office. So I guess I’ll do that. Buy some nice postcards, stuff ‘em in envelopes and mail them to people I love who are scattered all over the world like pebbles tossed into the sea. And do it before the new year becomes old, like a half-filled journal that you forget in your drawer for months.
Try it. Send a little happiness in an envelope and maybe you’ll get some back in your mailbox too!
On another note, should we order in pizza today?