I loathe going to the post office, but a pink slip I received in my mailbox brought me to one on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The slip notified me that the post office had a package for me, but it was too large to fit into my mailbox. I would have to pick it up in person.
The government worker behind the counter looked miserable to be working on the weekend. No surprise there.
Post Office Lady: Here's your package. Looks like you have a friend in Ireland.
So@24: ... Ireland, you say?
I tossed the beat up box in the passenger seat and made my way home. At red lights, I'd raise an eyebrow and sneak a glance at the Irish package.
I placed the package on my living room table and took a seat on the couch. The poor box had a rough trip over the Atlantic, but luckily the box INSIDE that box was unharmed. It was decorated in panels of a Spider Man comic (wow, she remembered).
Caitlin had placed a random assortment of candies and knick-knacks inside. A box of Irish tea, two bags of Irish sweets "clove rocks" and "sour apple balls" that proudly advertised "Handmade in Ireland", a giant rubber centipede who went by the name of Cyril, and a few Aero Bars just to name a few.
A wave of emotions came over me as I investigated each of the box's contents one by one. It has been quite sometime since I really thought about Caitlin for a prolonged period of time. Ever since I discovered that she thought I had "the wrong idea" about how she felt about me, I would turn pink with humiliation and was quick to change subjects whenever anyone asked me her whereabouts.
Or I said she died in a devastating explosion when her car crashed into a gas station.
I would have to explore the rest of the box at a later time, I needed to stop by the bookstore to visit Jack.
Stepping into Skylight, I made my way to the childrens' books. Jack wore a scarf. I made a mental note to make fun of him later, there were more important things on the docket to discuss.
Jack: Well hello.
So@24: I got a package from Irish Caitlin.
Jack: No shit. How do you feel about that?
So@24: I'm not sure yet. It brought up a lot of old shit... it's weird. I still feel stupid and that I was duped somehow. How did I read that wrong, you know? It's fucking scary when you can't trust your own instincts.
Jack: From what you've told me, it doesn't sound like you misread anything. You were doing all the right things. She might have just freaked out. It happens all the time without explanation. Look at me.
I put what Jack said in the back of mind until I returned home much later that evening. I grabbed the box from the table and made my way to my bedroom. I crawled into bed and continued my investigation.
At the very bottom of the box was a relatively thick stack of journal-size pages bound together by tiny clothing pins. Back in the early days of Caitlin, she had taken a trip to Madrid for a few weeks. She had hand written mini-notes to me almost every day of her trip. Her handwriting was like a font of its own and she doodled all over the pages. She discussed her day, her thoughts and went off on random tangents (or what she calls "waffling").
I sat in my bed and read all 44 handwritten pages and for a moment, fell for her all over again. I found myself actually chuckling out loud and smirking like an idiot at her completely random string of thoughts and sketches. She even made a mini collage of all of our inside jokes.
I closed the Spidey-decorated box and put it aside when I finished reading. I thought about what Jack told me in the bookstore.
Maybe it was time to look at my brief time with Caitlin in a different light. I learned an extremely valuable lesson from her. For a very long period of time (and I still get this way on occasion), I thought that no one else would be able to stir up the kind of giddy emotion that can only come from a member of the opposite sex. I didn't think anyone would make me laugh like my ex-girlfriend Lynn. That a cute girl would actually pay me any attention. Although nothing ever materialized, Caitlin brought me out of that dark moment... if only very briefly.
Someone ELSE besides my ex-girlfriend could do those things. There was hope.
She burned me, there's no doubt about that. But maybe it's time for me to stop being bitter about never knowing "what happened" and get over my obsession of always having to have the answer. Time to stop beating myself up over not reading the signals right and focus on the positive aspects.
Who the fuck knows what girls are thinking anyway? Every other guy in the history of time has complained about complexities of the female brain, why did I think I was so special to sidestep it?