I always wanted to be a librarian, and now that I think of it, I kind of am. I have my library of zines and a plethora of letters and mail art from the era that I would most want to curate. Now I just need to find a way to share them.

I can share some here. I’ve spent my spare time today sorting through letters that I have in a box – mostly from around 1990-1994.

I’m pretty sure I have a box of letters that span the mid-late-80’s. At least I HOPE I do. I HOPE it didn’t get thrown away.

I will forever remember the box of mail and zines I left behind because it wouldn’t fit into my car when I moved out of the house on 49th street in a big hurry. I will always wonder what little pieces of my past remained behind in that box.

I’ve culled through letters several times, though. Tossing those that were inconsequential. Keeping those from people I really cared about. Looking back at them, I see so much I didn’t see then.

What remains is loveliness from all corners of the earth. From dear friends in IL, GA, MI, CA, CO…not to mention Finland, Denmark, England.

The perpetually-incarcerated artist/bankrobber.

The octogenarian poet from New York.

The crazy beatnik from Albuquerque who sent risque photo postcards. The shy young woman who sent artwork and poetry to me, tentatively.

The boy with a crush on me that I completely ignored due to my tendency to remain oblivious to such things. The junkie cartoonist from New York.

All, all, all committing paper to pen several times a month. So many letters that began with “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you.” and “It was great to finally hear from you!”

I had their addresses memorized. Or, at least, their zip codes. I still think about them when I hear people say they are from some obscure town that someone I once knew hailed from. Midland, Michigan. Appleton, Wisconsin. Yellow River, Ohio. Fair Oaks, California. I would grow to love the way they shaped their letters and the pattern of punctuation the way most would love a face or a particular accent.

When I was in high school, I would frequently make my mother call me in sick so I could spend the day in my pajamas, answering mail. Writing letters. Waiting waiting waiting for the thick bundle of mail to drop between the screen door and the wooden door because there was too much to fit in the mailbox.

And there was mail art. Interesting envelopes. Who knows what mail I never received because of the container that held it.

Yesterday, I was thinking that my friend P is the kind of adult I always thought was cool when I was younger. Unassuming, and cool as shit. Today, glancing through this bit of my history, I realize – I am exactly the kind of adult that I wanted to be. And THAT is pretty damn cool.

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