You’ve Got Mail

This week has been quite an exciting ones, in terms of mail. Columbus Day meant no mail on Monday, but on Tuesday, my bound thesis showed up, and on Friday, the recent issue of Ecumenica with my article in it, and today, a packet of chocolate from my friend Claire in England.

One of the few pleasures of pre-Internet life is in danger, and that is mail. For those of you unfamiliar with it, mail is a service that brings surprises to your door, sometimes unpleasant, but mostly pleasant. When I was little, I used to get so upset whenever the mail came and I didn’t get anything. I subscribed to a kid’s magazine, and had a pen pal with whom I wrote infrequently (oddly enough, we’re now Facebook friends and I have no clue what is currently going on in her life), but other than that, I guess I didn’t have anyone to write to me.

When I was in college, I joined Bookcrossing.com, which really changed my life – I made so many new friends from around the world (including Claire) and even met a few on occasion, and in 2011 when they had their annual convention in Washington, I went and met many more people! Unfortunately, their conventions are usually in Australia or Europe, so I haven’t had the opportunity to go to another, but I still keep in touch with people here and there. Usually when holiday season rolls around we exchange gifts, and of course, swap and give each other books all year long. BC really fueled my reading habit and wherever I’ve lived, they’ve always taken good care of me. And since I love buying/sending gifts and postcards and stuff, it would be a joy to get a thank you email or – even better – a public forum post. I haven’t been hanging around so much for a little while due to the thesis and the move, but I’m hoping to stage a return soon.

Some of my most exciting and fun mail stories have been because of BC. A few highlights:

1. Last year in Houston, I got a lovely birthday package from Claire, and when I opened it, a paper butterfly FLEW out of the envelope! She had rigged it with a rubber band so that opening the card would set it off. She also makes beautiful handmade cards every year. Thanks for all the love Claire 🙂

2. Back in Amherst, I had just come back from a weekend away when I found the oddest package in my mailbox – it came from Hawaii and it was a book, but on the outside, it had a stamp reading: “DAMAGED – CONTACT WITH RAW CHICKEN.” The contents and the envelope smelled and looked fine, but I always wondered what that was about.

3. Finally, my favorite story, from Israel. When I was in Israel, in order to keep contact with the outside world and feel less lonely, I became way more active. I didn’t have an address, but the program had a PO Box, and every Wednesday we’d all meet up for lunch in the main building and, among other things, receive packages. My birthday happened to have been a Wednesday in 2009, and when I walked in the room that day I saw a huge pile of six or seven packages. I went, “ooh, packages!” The top package had my name on it, so I picked it up and went to sit down with it. But before my butt hit the uncomfortable metal chair, Yonit (the program director) turned to me and said “they’re ALL for you, Jacob.”

And indeed they were, every single one. Almost all from Bookcrossing friends. I had at least one from each continent (except South America, but I counted Mexico as “Latin America”), which was extremely exciting, and I just sat there during the announcements chomping at the bit to open them and facing quizzical looks from people wondering why I had so many friends. I just smiled and hugged my packages.

Sometimes I tremble when I open my email, but I’m always excited if you send me a gift, a postcard, or a letter in the mail.

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