the last outpost

April 15th, 2020

I walked down to the post office again today. By again, I mean for the second day in a row. I’m partly motivated by my personal mission to save the postal service as the last outpost of our once-civil society. Yesterday I bought stamps; today I mailed a book. Yes, I wore a mask and gloves and kept a social distance. I could have driven, but walking matters. Walking can save the day.

Twenty years ago I moved here from a place where walking outside was not something you’d ever be able to write about. You just didn’t do it. You lived a kind of pneumatic existence, riding a blast of air conditioning from one enclosure to another, entirely avoiding the heat, humidity and mosquitoes. Oh the humanity.

Once I got here I saw real live people unseal their windows and doors, step onto the sidewalks, and mosey about all day long in the wide-open air. At first, I thought less of these slow pokes: they clearly had nothing better to do. And then I learned that there was never anything better to do.

When a crying baby came I found out what a walk to the post office would accomplish: a miracle. Her upturned face warmed by the pure light of the sun, skin cooled by the soft caress of the wind, senses delighted by birdcalls and coos—a few blocks in her stroller would calm the baby and silence the cries. All was well that day and every day we made it down to the post office.

I had one child who outgrew the stroller a long time ago. Now she gets around by herself. But there’s another crying child, restless and fretful, who still lives here. When she’s tired and cranky, past her limits, worn out from worry, I take her out for another walk to the post office. As long as there’s a post office, I believe I can keep going.


Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash


  1. Rest assured that the post office loves you right back. Buy the stamps, write the letters, send the cards. We’re so lucky to have this way of being together.

    Comment by Bonnie Rae — April 15, 2020 @ 6:12 am

  2. Once again an inspiring, reassuring message that is steeped in reality. Thank you.

    Comment by Tom — April 15, 2020 @ 7:52 am

  3. O Karen, I can’t blame you for that inner child welling up. When I hear the news about the US I just want to cry, my heart breaks for you, and I don’t even live in the US.
    This too will pass, I’m sure.

    Comment by Simone — April 15, 2020 @ 8:40 am

  4. I walked down to my mailbox this morning. The Houston air was dry and the trees were glorious. I passed a woman sitting cross-legged at the end of her driveway, with her face upturned toward the sun.

    Comment by Leslie — April 15, 2020 @ 10:38 am

  5. Darling Leslie, I’m so glad you’re up and about! Sometimes we only have to make it to the end of the driveway.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 15, 2020 @ 10:54 am

  6. I believe I can say the same about you, Maezen — stay well out there!

    Comment by Jean Breheney — April 15, 2020 @ 11:56 am

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