Yesterday, a letter arrived that was not for me. It was a kind of big envelope, square and heavy, and the address was somewhat similar to ours, but not really, although clearly close enough for someone to stick it in the wrong mailbox in the wrong neighborhood. I could tell at first glance it was some kind of invitation, maybe a wedding or baby shower, that’s my best guess. And today, I will stick it back in my mailbox, with a note saying WRONG HOUSE or something similar. And for anyone else, that would be the end of it.
I heard a novelist speak a long time ago about how writers are just not normal. That if you are a writer, you are naturally out of step with the rest of the world, because everything has the potential to be a story, and you’re always thinking about the possible things than can happen after any one moment. At the time, I thought this was a little off, but now, I believe it. How can I not, when the other option is to just admit I’m completely co-dependent and strange?
I guarantee you that a normal person would NOT have been thinking about this invitation like I did when I first got it. About this person who it is addressed to—let’s call her Beth—and how now, her invitation will arrive later than it should have, and what that might mean. Like, if it’s a wedding shower, and she hears from someone else she knows who’s gotten an invitation, and then wonders if she’s been snubbed and gets her feelings all hurt and maybe even says something snippy to the person who’s throwing the shower, not knowing it’s all the mailman’s fault and not hers. I mean, we all know how crazy emotional people get about weddings, and not just the brides, either.
Or maybe, it’s not an invitation. Maybe it’s a very late Christmas card, and the person who sent it—let’s call her Joann—is already stressed about them going out after New Years and now, with this holdup, it’s taking even longer. If she knew, maybe she’d freak out, because Beth of course sent Joann a card BEFORE Christmas, and Beth always does everything better, and now here’s Joann slapping things together at the last minute, so typical. Or maybe it’s a Thank You card, sent on time and with the best of intentions by Joanne, which will now be late and give Beth that much more time to stew and wonder why no one ever writes Thank You cards anymore, what’s this world coming to?
I mean, truthfully, it could be anything, and the very fact that it’s sitting on my kitchen island right now and NOT Beth’s mailbox has the potential to be like the slightest little shift in the universe, one wobble that affects a million other things you can see and twice as many you can’t. Yikes!
See, this is why I should have been an accountant. Seriously.
Okay, enough worrying over the state of the universe, I have other things to do. Like the fact that later today, I’m going back to speak at my high school. Where, incidentally, I sucked so bad at math that accounting, even then, was not a career option. But oh, well. There are worse things than overthinking. Aren’t there?