Desert Living, Once Upon A Time – Part Two – The Mailbox


Heady stuff buying your first house, even if your first house is your second which in my case it was. I’d bought my mother a house some months prior but this was different. This was my house. It was a house for me and it had been a long time coming.

I was on my own and homeless at 15 years old but able to open a savings account when I was 16. I was a big spender because the bank required 5 dollars minimum deposit and I had 6, so you know. I was a major customer and however I’d managed it, I’d saved my money and I had a house now. I had a great house even and I was proud.

I was also a little amazed and anxious to mark my territory. The first thing I did after I stood in the yard and waved my arms around at the 2 acres and thought “I own all this” was paint my mailbox.

Some of you remember Shack Man and this will be familiar to you, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. Per my plan that was devised long before, I went to the hardware store to pick up a quart of blue paint, a paint brush and came home to paint my mailbox blue in honor of Taj Mahal.

Of who?
Of Taj Mahal and his song, “Paint My Mailbox Blue“.

“Goin’ to the country.
Gonna paint my mailbox blue…”

The first time I heard that song, it struck me as an awfully good idea and I never came off that. Note that it was Taj Mahal’s his good idea, not my own. I hadn’t had my good idea yet. Apparently other people are flooded with them but I was still waiting for one and maybe that’s a sad story but in whatever case, this is what I did and I did it right away.

I didn’t think about it, I didn’t need to. I’d been thinking about it for a long time already, right? Five years at least so at my first opportunity, I crossed the dirt road, dusty from months without significant rain. I cleared the dirt from the base of the post and I painted that sucker top to bottom, feeling very satisfied and giddy all the while.

I know life is good when you make it that way yourself. I also know that lots of people want to win the lotto or whatever, but for me, painting a mailbox blue in the country was a peak experience. This guy gets an Oscar, this other gal wins the Nobel Peace Prize but I couldn’t imagine they’d be any happier than I was that day with my blue paint. I guess this is because a dream coming true is a dream coming true.

Finished, I stood back to survey and I’d like to say that it was perfect, but it wasn’t. Ol Taj didn’t give much clarification in his song, so let me clue you in: If you want to do this, when you get your blue paint, get some red too because mail flags don’t look right “blue”. This is what I learned, so more one trip to the hardware and the job was done.

Now who knows what my neighbor was thinking when she saw my improvements to our neighborhood. I did not think about that and it’s because I am missing that lobe of my brain. The socially conscious or savvy part I mean. I wasn’t thinking “neighbor” at all because I didn’t especially know I had one. Yeah sure. I saw her big ol’ mailbox next to mine, but so? I didn’t see her and I didn’t see her house so who is to say there is a neighbor?

Have you ever visited a ghost town? I have. If you don’t know what one is, then I’ll tell you. It’s a town where no one lives anymore. No. I mean for real.

Don’t be fooled like I was. There is no one and almost nothing there and it a horribly disappointing bore if you are me – a kid who shows up at one expecting to see real live ghosts mulling about, shopping and going to school and stuff.

My mother liked to paint ghost towns. Well, she didn’t paint the town. She painted the canvass so not only did I have to go to a good many of them, I had to stay all day wondering what the hell the point of fascination was and I can’t imagine my complaint. It was 109 degrees, there was nowhere to sit, never mind any hope of finding a spot of shade and no sign of Casper anywhere.

Pure rip, if you ask me and it was because of this I was well aware that there is such a thing as an abandoned mailbox in the desert. I promise you this is true, just in case you wonder how I could see a mailbox and be wide open as to whether there were a person was attached or not.

Now I did imagine that someone likely lived down that trail a ways but I never wondered who. I may have begun to wonder after awhile, but there was no need because I met her straight away.

I painted the mailbox on Sunday, my one day off and I met her on Monday when the mail came.

Skip to Part 3 – The Meeting

9 thoughts on “Desert Living, Once Upon A Time – Part Two – The Mailbox”

  1. Here is a guy with same idea

    Cluster of mailboxes is similar too, except in my case there was just the two of them, hers and mine.

  2. my former house that was my “dream house”, supposedly my last, well I bought an expensive mailbox for that. it was HUGE, scratch-proof red, and INDESTRUCTIBLE. seriously so. it was explosive-proof to a lower certified degree. it was so capricorn. it was the brick shithouse of mailboxes.

    I never got to put it up. I left it for the new people to put up.

  3. Avatar

    When I was a kid our mailbox was a 1/4 mile down at the end of our gravel driveway. I still remember the little red flag that stuck up when there was mail inside. So exciting! Nowadays, all I see are these “communal” mailboxes, stacked up like little tombs. No fun at allโ€ฆ

    For some reason this story gives me hope. I am in a dark place of not even being able to see how I could ever dream of owning my own home, but I’m glad it worked out for you, Elsa! Looking forward to the installment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. LOL @ “brick shithouse of mailboxes” and (((((satori))))).

    I have a whole picture of this story in my head. Was the paint light blue or dark blue? ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait for Monday (in the story)!

  5. the mailbox

    If I were sensible
    it should have been
    the gun threats
    but it was the mailbox
    I had labeled
    with our last name
    dizzy with land lust
    and wifely dreams
    the cold water shock
    of your unguarded words
    after ten years
    “I’m not ready
    to make that kind
    of commitment”
    I almost died
    of hypothermia

    that moment I knew…

    I moved it
    to Ohio
    after our divorce
    gave it away
    and broke down

    the mailbox
    would look nice
    out here……
    should have
    kept it

    LS 6/02/07

    obviously your mailbox story resonates. I’m so glad you got your chance…

  6. I like this story. I am curious to see what happens! I too bought my mom a house before I got one of my own.

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