The way I realize, truly realize, I have assimilated to a place is when the post office knows me. It doesn't take long. I'm there almost every day, overnighting an envelope to a small town in Vermont, sending a postcard to France, changing my address.
You know all about this, the woman said today, handing me the package slip. We laughed. She thought the flower sticker on the box to my sister looked like an eyeball.
In Michigan, the man finally asked me: Is all this yours? Stamping the media rate on manila, all those contests, all those magazines, all those checks.
Yes, I said.
He thought I was bound for glory. He thought it would happen anytime, every time I showed up in line with my arms full of envelopes.
Today is the day, he said.
I once had a friend named Katie who, at the age of sixteen, rented her own post office box: 666. She picked out the number herself. We met at a theatre workshop in the west. She was my room mate, arriving in the middle of the night with a bottle of bleach, in case we wanted to dye our hair. We didn't. She had a T-shirt that said: I've got a killer...and then had a picture of a cat. She said she would send one to me.
Katie, if you are reading this, write to me. You were wild. Come back.
I was wild. I came back. I became a woman walking to the post office in a red raincoat, grown up, alone, happy, fine, swinging her bag full of whispers sealed into envelopes, sealed inside petals, sealed with a tongue for kissing, for you.