The nearly always-interesting thing for me about beginning an essay, any piece of writing that begins with a notion about something, is I rarely know where it will lead. What the final shape and flavor will be.

There are times, like now, this early January morning, it is 5:43 a.m. as I write these words, that two ideas join hands, two images, if you will.

One is about the complete and utter joy I feel when I get regular mail, not e-mail, mail. Yesterday I was comfortably ensconced in my ugly orange Archie Bunker living-room chair writing in my journal when I saw the mail carrier arrive and put mail in the mailbox. It was all I could do not to leap out of my chair and race to the mailbox because when I see mail arrive I am often swept up in the same kind of joy a child feels on Christmas morning.

Am I alone in the world in my response to getting mail? I doubt it. Getting mail is in some way a reminder that the world knows you are alive. And the utter joy I feel when the two magazines I subscribe too (The New Yorker and The Atlantic) arrive is indescribable.

The second notion I was pondering is the answer to a question I have been asked recently, twice actually, about what I want in a relationship, what I want to be true in a relationship with a woman. There are some non-negotiables for me in a relationship: no emotional or physical violence, no drugs, preferably someone who does not smoke (anything), and at the risk of sounding shallow and close minded, I have a tough time with unshaved legs and armpits. Silly of me? Maybe. But maybe not. I know there are woman who will do an about face when they see I have a beard or goatee.

Now, what does getting mail and relationships have in common, and why am I, for some reason, connecting them in my head? Damned if I know. However, maybe it has to do with the hope that in any relationship there is always a joy and wonder felt when listening too and experiencing what comes out of the mind and heart of the person you are with.

Again, what does getting mail and relationships really have in common? Not sure. But, what the hell, this is my essay.

I can say that above all else in any relationship I want us to be best friends – emotionally, physically and spiritually at peace with each other – and safe to be who we are with each other, as happy nesting quietly together at home as we are exploring the world around us.

Has this been a fragmented, disjointed essay. Sure has. What can I tell you… other than thank you for toughing it out.


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