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84 October 20, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Fourteen Octobers ago, Tim moved to Vermont. Without me. He’d landed a job just after I’d taken a new one in DC, so I stayed put for a little while, trying to get a year in, while he tested the waters up here. His first day of work was Halloween. Can you imagine? It was costume enough for him to suit up.

For a couple of months he had temporary housing in the town where his job was. So he got a PO box there. Then he moved to Parts West, 22ish miles away, but because there was no mail delivery (too close to the post office), he kept the original PO box and picked up mail when he was in town for work.

When I moved up, my first big client was based in the same town as Tim’s job. In fact, the building was right next to the post office. I was there often enough that getting our mail was no problem. Meanwhile, I opened a PO box at the Parts West post office, but just for my editorial business.

Eventually, Tim’s employer built corporate offices in another town, and he could no longer be counted on to get the mail. My offices moved too, but not out of town. Still, my trips to town were becoming less frequent. But I never got rid of that PO box.

For one thing, I like my number: 84. It’s the year I graduated from college. It has a nice Orwellian ring to it.

For another thing, I like the post office. I like walking to my spot, turning the key, grabbing the mail. I like seeing the people who work there.

For yet another thing, I knew that when I got rid of that box, I would have to do a change-of-address overhaul. I would have to contact everybody, businesswise and personal, to give them a new address. I would have to have new checks printed. I would have to deal with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Seriously, I have enough to do without all that. I was perfectly content to get mail only a couple of times a week.

Then the rates went up.

For years, I think I spent $20 per box (one of which I could write off as a business expense). Then, for a long time, it was $26. Now, suddenly, it’s $42. Twice that is $84. I can’t put out $84 per annum just to keep Box 84. I have to let it go.

I’ve been preparing myself for this all year. Little by little, I’ve made the changes. Every renewal got the new address. A couple of months ago I got serious and switched all the bills over, got new checks.

I still haven’t called the DMV.

On October 31, I’ll have to turn in my keys. I know it’s just a PO box. But it’s been my little leased space for fourteen years. It feels like mine. There’s something that doesn’t feel right about walking away from it.

Back in April, I mentioned a conversation I’d had with a woman at the roller derby:

. . . she’s a medium and works on past-life regressions. She looked at Tim and me and told me we’d been together in twelve lifetimes, and once we owned an 84-acre farm together. I told her that the number 84 actually has a couple of meanings for me, and perhaps this 84-acre farm was part of why I’ve been having trouble letting go of a PO box with that number that has outlived its convenience.

It’s odd that she came with 84 acres. Just imagine how much trouble I probably had letting go of that. If I remember any details, I’ll be sure to let you know.


1. Bridgett - October 20, 2008

I have problems with numbers, too. 204, 24, 23.

My favorite part of this is that you were at a roller derby, talking to a medium.

2. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - October 20, 2008

And of course 84 is also your 12 lifetimes with Tim x a perfect 7,

3. bettyslocombe - October 20, 2008

It’s just a few coffees several bottles of wine and a cd: keep it. Sentiment is a necessity, unlike those fripperies. Be like the lady in the Eudora Welty story: live at the P.O.

4. indigobunting - October 20, 2008

Mrs. S: Just reading that puts the pangs right back in my heart. My sweet little PO box…

and I don’t remember the Eudora Welty story, although of course it’s possible I read it years ago. Should look that up.

Craig, you old numerologist, you.

B: I relished that moment. It felt like one that might never come again.

5. Helen - October 21, 2008

I would gladly contribute $5.00 (Canadian) towards the PO Box 84 Preservation Fund.

6. indigobunting - October 21, 2008

You guys. You are making this hard again, being so nice and understanding about my sentimentality/neurosis. Today I intend to finish my address-forwarding forms and turn them in.

It’s not that I don’t have a sweet little PO box waiting for me just seven doors down…


7. Cedar Waxwing - October 21, 2008

When I read the story yesterday all I kept thinking about was 84 Lumber and seeing the number 84 in white digits inside a big red circle.

I understand your attachment to the box though. I say, do what feels right.

8. Eulalia (Lali) Benejam Cobb - October 21, 2008

On the other hand, as Colette said, we only possess that which we give up. Give up that PO box, and it will be yours forever (for one thing, you’ll be able to write all sorts of good stuff about it, like this post).

9. Lynda - October 21, 2008

Why not put the $84 toward a yearly dinner at a particular Poultney, VT haunt with your favorite next-door neighbors??

That may ease the pangs a bit…:)

10. indigobunting - October 22, 2008

CW: I had completely forgotten the existence of 84 Lumber.

Eulalia: Thank you. Let Colette be my guide this week!

Lynda: Technically, only $42, as my local box gets half. Still, that’ll cover almost one of us, and your point is well taken. We’ll call it my box dinner.

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