redemption via certified mail

image by flashy soup can via flickr


I missed a delivery today, the little paper telling me that it is a certified letter. It also told me who it is from, or at least a name.

Now I don’t order all that often, but I am awaiting a package, some sandals I bought in anticipation of warmer weather, but the tracking of these says they won’t arrive for a few days. Also, shoes would be a parcel, not a letter, right? …and the “sender” would be the company I ordered from, not this name.

The odd thing about this is that I am quite sure the form is just misleading, and that tomorrow I will have my shoes.

The odder thing is that there is a possibility that this will be something I’ve often fantasized about. No, not that kind of fantasy… one of redemption.

Years ago I had to leave town in a rush because my father suffered a stroke. I didn’t have time to go back to my apartment and left directly for the airport from work. In my 20’s life was far less complicated, and the only thing that I was worried about leaving unattended was my rent, which was due.

Now those were times when paying rent was a struggle. My apartment was shared with roommates, it was a walkup in a brownstone in the pre-gentrified East Village, and it was really very cheap, but gathering up that amount of money each month was tough. I had only one option of getting the rent to the landlady, and that was to get cash (we could only pay in cash, of course) and to place it in an envelope to leave with Marlene, the receptionist at work.

I should say right away that Marlene was the sweetest little church lady I’ve ever met. Really she was.

She was not like the church ladies I’d come to know some years later, when I was taking the subway to and from work from Brooklyn in that steamy heat of a New York summer. Comfortably seated, they would clutch their bibles and read with devotion, my very pregnant belly swaying and casting shadows over the scriptures as I struggled to keep my balance. Not once did they offer me a seat, and more than once I’d arrive home in tears.

This was, you see, the first time I learned that being outwardly religious doesn’t always translate to inward goodness. Actually the more outwardly religious one is it seems the more spider webs within.

Marlene was not like that. I was very fond of her and could listen to her island accent endlessly. She was kind and motherly, and unless I am simply the most deluded person that was ever born I can tell you that I never once suspected her…to this day.

By now you’ve surmised that the money disappeared. Indeed, when I got back from the hospital that night my Aunt told me that there had a been a frantic call from my roommate. When he went to pick up the envelope, it was no longer there. A man had already come and asked for it, and Marlene had dutifully given it to him. It was gone. I had to come up with double rent that month, and more than the money I lost a bit of myself just thinking that someone would do that to me.

The mystery was never solved, but I always had my suspicions, strong ones. And the name of the “sender” of the letter is the name of the one I’d always suspected.

One more thing. It was I who set the stage for this act of contrition. Some months ago I saw this person’s face on facebook, a friend of a friend, and I sent an invite. He accepted. We were friends but in that facebooky way of long-ago connections never actually connected. No words were exchanged other than the click to invite and accept. Then I waited. That’s where the fantasy came in.

Tomorrow I’ll know, and if I don’t blog about this again, you’ll know it was the shoes, which I fully expect it to be.

But there is always room for redemption, right?


4 thoughts on “redemption via certified mail

  1. Wow. I’m curious to learn more about this! There’s a good essay in this, whatever the registered letter brings. At moments like this, I realize that I still have a lot to learn about forgiveness. I had such a righteous indignation rising in me as I read this! I could almost feel a rant coming on. Keep us posted!

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