Mar 1 2004
In the tradition of the very White Shoe Irregular. Both paragraphs end (and thus, both stories begin) with someone getting something in the mail. What does it mean?
There were three sets of developed photos that arrived in the mail for Casey the day she quit her job. She was expecting two: the roll from her cousin's wedding in Kennewick three weeks ago, and the last roll from the trip to Australia that she and her old roomate Carol had taken three months ago. The timing of the postman every morning was phenomenal. Casey had to be at work at 8:30 am, and lived 13 minutes away. The postman came at approximately 8:15, allowing her nearly every morning to walk out, get her mail, and drive to work, in one smooth reassuring motion. This morning the ritual was no different, and so perhaps opening the third roll was, by contrast, a greater shock.
Over the last 200 years or so, it seems that most of Europe has had the urge to invade Poland. Some mornings, I'd had that urge myself (usually those on which the radio station I'd set my alarm clock to was broadcasting NPR programs). There are all sorts of thoughts, anxieties, and thwarted ambitions that can make their way to the top of a mind that
isn't quite conscious yet, and maybe I should have been curious about what my desire to visit -- even dominate -- an east European has-been power said about me. But I'd never cared enough to find out. Most mornings, by the time I'd taken my shower, eaten my bacon and eggs, and sat down at my desk to ponder the day, the people and doings of Chicago were on my mind, and Poland was as far away as... well, Eastern Europe. Until the day I got the letter from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw.