The post office shamans

I go to the post office often, at least five or six times per month to send things home.  Packages that are fragile, regardless of their content: carrying a little bit of myself there, something tangible to substitute my absence.  After seven years, I know the faces of most of the postal workers in my neighbourhood post offices intimately.  I wonder if they know mine by now – surely they should, but there is rarely a register of familiarity in the way they engage with me, a estrangeira

At first I used to dread going to the post office by myself, awkward with the weight of emotional baggage, my parceled longing, the coded messages reaching out on Western Union forms… And then there was the additional burden of trying to make myself understandable (I seemed to have a mental block against remembering the Portuguese word for “a form”). Sometimes they’d have a laugh at my clumsy Portuguese; sometimes I would be close to tears with frustration at a package lost; a glitch in the system; a broken connection.

But now I know their faces; I am familiar with the form(s).  Still I wonder if they know how much is at stake, how I rely on them, the ones on the other side of the counter, mediating between this world and another.


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