Dead Letter Office
By Erin Rose Belair
October 4, 2018
I am multi-genre writer specializing in travel, ad-copy, and nonfiction prose. A recent graduate with my MFA I am spending my new found time rambling around the world, practicing yoga, and searching for the best salad ever.
I try not to think about it all of the time. I have to actively think to not think about it, because it makes me hard to be around, like my edges are nothing but snags, my touch something that pickles those close to me. Vinegar in my veins. I keep boxes inside of boxes, folded pieces of paper and cassette tapes in my glove box. I start to tag my thoughts, past, future, past conditional so I can start to understand how often I am not here.
At coffee, she tells me I have a lot going for me, but I seem to squander my days more often than not and I wonder at people who get things done. I read a book about a girl who wanted to sleep for a year, and I understand it so much I have to put it away. The sentiment rattles around so much inside of me that I get sick, and then say it is the season.
Of the things, I am taught, or study, or have picked up along the way– actively moving on is not one of them. She tells me, maybe it makes you a better writer, but not much better at anything else. This is the truest thing anyone has told me in six months. I look back at photographs taken in bathroom mirrors of myself in Vermont and all I can remember is the water on the windowsill and the rattle in my lungs.
The day before I left there I mailed myself home three packages. The boxes were so full I had covered the tops in clear tape so they wouldn’t split at the seams, leaving your sleeping bag and my winter jeans on the side of a road somewhere. But, it didn’t matter. One of the boxes, the one filled with the things most special to me– my notes from the work that month, the letter you wrote on the typewriter, the signed copy of the California Field Atlas, my books, my love notes. That one went missing anyway.
In the hazy month when I returned, when I could do nothing but talk in circles, cut things out of magazines and get high, I one day filed a query with the post office online to find the package. It went unanswered and I was losing so much any way it felt right, and I remained unphased. Instead, I watched youtube videos of tarot card readers because I was desperate for anyone to tell me what to do. I also cut more things out of magazines.
Today I got a notice that said the package is unretrievable, and that it most likely now sits in the dead letter office– a place for lost, undelivered, and unreadable mail. I look it up and the center is in Atlanta, Georgia and over 20,000 pieces of mail pass through there daily. I read the word, unretrievable, so many times it begins to look like another language. I lie on the couch while the sun goes down and I imagine driving there only to lay down in a pile of letters and sleep there for a year.