If there’s one place I can count on to force me to slow down, it’s the Neenah post office. The same three guys have been working there for as long as I can remember; always standing at the same registers. The blond guy in his late 40s on the left has a green gecko tattooed on his right forearm and is the least professional. He’s the only one who smiles, but he went home sick today — not before making a puke-face at everyone in line. The greying guy in the middle is the shortest, he always tries to act the most normal. He takes care of customers the quickest. And the guy on the right is a complete trip. He’s tall with a serious swoop of grey-brown hair and some small, thick-lensed glasses. He talks in a soothing voice and says things like, “Or, we could send it first class – that will give you the most bang for your postal buck,” or like, “Oh thanks but you really saved the day by giving him that receipt confirmation.”

Everything takes about 10 times longer than it does in Chicago, but it’s good. It’s nice… I have to slow down. I have to wait my turn in line and enjoy the circus around me. The registers haven’t been updated since what looks like the 1970s; the pictures and forms on the wall haven’t changed since the first time I went to the post office.

People who patronize the Neenah post office either hate it or love it — my sister hates it. But I adore it. I can’t help but laugh out loud, & as soon as I enter the building, time slows down. I need that sometimes.

I’m in Neenah (obviously. heh heh.) and it’s so strange. Erika and I drove down Doty Avenue, passing the house I spent ages 3-11 growing up in. I barely recognized anything and it almost seems like I made it all up. Every time I come here, it’s like more of my upbringing peels off and disappears into some crazy child-like vortex that was made up of mud pies and rescued puppies. I mean, it happened, right…?

My parents house sucks. I find it strangely satisfying (though it should be bittersweet, it’s just damn ridiculous…) that my father spent years of his life — time, energy, dedication — designing, re-designing, building, decorating a “mcmansion” to live in, only to have no family to share it with when it was completed. I went away to college, my sister moved out, the house-guest bought his own home, the housekeeper was laid off, and now my dad is trying to push my mother out more every day. I mean, the man has one of his closest friends mowing the 3-acre lawn to repay a debt. There’s no joy here. It screams of a hollow mid-life crisis and I am not surprised or dismayed. I am detached and only feel sorrow for my mother, but she’s a strong woman. She will move forward and re-build (hopefully in Norway).

I want a comfortable existence with a place to call home. I want to sew curtains and pick flowers from the garden to put in a vase on the kitchen table. I find myself living vicariously through Emily; I want what she’s got.

All in due time, I suppose… one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.