Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sam, from beyond the sidewalk (blue)

every summer, i would wait impatiently, on the painted wood stoop, off the front of the porch, at 11:32 each day for the white truck, the letters M-A-I-L, stenciled in blue down the side. our mail man's name was Mr. Hodgkins, and i was pretty sure that when he would round the corner and see me, he would intentionally slow down, because i know that Mr. Wilson was too busy fussing at that cat to have a conversation with him.

Mr. Hodgkins always wanted to know how my day was and how my family was doing, dragging out the moments before handing me a bundle of junk addressed to my parents. on special days though, he would call me back, after i turned away, to hand me the treasure i was seeking, a postcard from Sam. grabbing it, i would run, clomping up the stairs, across the porch into the house, leaving Mr. Hodgkins to neatly stack the mail i had dropped across the sidewalk in my haste and put it in the mailbox, with a chuckle.

arriving in my room, i would sit in the hard wood chair at the desk in the corner, placing the postcard in the middle, so that the magic could begin. the brilliant picture on the front would expand at the edges to fill my room, carrying with it the scent of whatever exotic location Sam happened to be visiting that month; beaches of Morocco, ruins in Italy, jungles in Peru.

large leafy plants would erupt from the corners of my room, the far wall melting into crystal blue oceans. my bed became moss covered rocks, embedded in the sun warmed sands of my floor. birds would call from the canopies of trees, where salamanders clung to the bark, their eyes turned to follow me.

i would walk around these scenes, thrilling in new tastes, mesmerised by the animals that walked slowly passed me. the chatter of languages that i could not understand danced in the air, beautiful to my ear. after what seemed like hours, i would turn the card over to read his words, which added textures, bringing these new places even more into focus. he would always end with Your Friend, Sam.

at night, i would rub the postmark with my stubby child fingers, like a genie lamp, making a wish to awake in some far off land, as i drifted off to sleep, clutching the card to my chest. as morning light spilled through soft cotton curtains, i would always awake to the same tousled covers, in same room, in the same four street neighborhood and poke my head out the window, just in time for Mrs. Lilly to steal another part of my soul. click~whir.

it never bothered me that the postcards were addressed to some guy named Tom, i knew they must be for me, a boy in exile, somewhere in suburbia. one day, i would meet Sam, somewhere on the outside, and tell him how each summer he inspired my escape, through little glimpses of life beyond the sidewalk, delivered in a white truck, the letters M-A-I-L, stenciled in blue.


This is a Theme Thursday post.

100 comments:

Ed Pilolla said...

dude, your writing about being a boy, with imagination exploding and wanderlusting reminds me of ray bradbury. however, it's uniquely your marvelous voice. i mean, when you describe a boy in his room and the edges of the postcard expanding and your room coming alive, you stir the little boy inside me. so good.

Paul C said...

A boy in exile, somewhere in suburbia...you have captured perfectly everyone's desire for the exotic just beyond our reach.

Tracy said...

I really like the idea of words adding textures to pictures. Brilliant! (Guinness toast)

CM said...

What a twist! I thought Sam was going to be your brother.

Love the imagery...my favorite, though, was: "large leafy plants would erupt from the corners of my room, the far wall melting into crystal blue oceans." So tropical and magical. I can just see a little boy's imagination taking him there!

Eva Gallant said...

so wondrous--a child's imagination; and you capture it and hang it before us in detail!

Tina said...

I love how you connect your stories. And your descriptions are just plain amazing. My favorite line:...so that the magic could begin. the brilliant picture on the front would expand at the edges to fill my room, carrying with it the scent of whatever exotic location. I felt like I could see into his imagination.

Tom said...

what the heck!? you captured how a young boy feels perfectly! And i still feel that way sometimes, the anticipation...but the moments are far and few....happy tt

secret agent woman said...

A child's imagination can turn even a small rectangle of paper into magic!

(Movie recommendation "Dear Frankie" about the power of letters.)

Luisa Doraz said...

What a story to be happy over. I am smiling at your words of fun and admiration. :)

Bonnie said...

How beautifully you speak to all of us who were 'exiled in suburbia' ... dreaming of making an escape.

Steven Anthony said...

This one really speaks to me...as a boy I used my imagination to escape my suropundings.....life became a play.....

beautifully done my friend

PattiKen said...

This is, as always, wonderful. Your description of the boy's transformed room is so vivid.

The mail truck always meant magical things to me. In fact, it still does (hard to explain, since it usually only brings junk and bills nowadays).

And you may be the only person I have heard since childhood to use the word "stoop." 'Course, I lived in VA for several years as a kid, so maybe that explains it.

otin said...

It seems that most of us have felt that we were exiled in suburbia at one point in our lives. Nice imagery!!

slommler said...

This is beautiful and exotic and poignant all at the same time. Ahh what travels I made just in this short story.
Thank you
Hugs
SueAnn

Gary said...

this reminded me of Where the Wild Things Are when Max's room became the world all around. Rather exciting.

Daniel said...

How descriptive and vivid with the imagery today. Took me away for a while. Makes we want to know more about Sam, ..., and about Tom.

TechnoBabe said...

How exciting that a postcard from a far off place could stimulate the little boy's imagination and give him so much joy. This was such a fun read.

The Retired One said...

Well done, Brian....heck, I STILL feel that way when I see pictures of tropical islands...and when we are trying to decide where our next vacation will take us!

The Turning Point said...

Thanks for inviting us into your room and your travels.
Your tales are magical.

Jim

Heartspell said...

There is something so magical about getting a postcard from somewhere you've never seen or been; and who cares if your name is not on the other side? Loved this post...well done. Heartspell

Heartspell said...

There is something so magical about getting a postcard from somewhere you've never seen or been; and who cares if your name is not on the other side? Loved this post...well done. Heartspell

TALON said...

I loved the tie-ins of Mr. Wilson and Mrs. Lily (who never misses a photo op, does she?) and I could see it all so clearly and I loved the boy's excitement for the cards and what they represented to him. This neighborhood is full of intrigue, Brian.

Monkey Man said...

Stealing mail is a federal offense, Brian. You really shold have kept this under your hat. *smiles*. I'll post a Theme Thursday after midnight.

G-Man said...

Normally I would say that this was a fantastic childhood journey, but coming from you Brian, I expect nothing less. And you know what? You NEVER disappoint...
See Ya Friday....G

Me said...

I *love* this group of stories (that are really just one big story, I suppose).

I doubt I'll be the first to say this, but all these little childhood vignettes? I hope that you have them all filed together and ready to send off to a publisher.

May I put in a request for an autographed first edition now, please? :)

-C

Kat_RN said...

Great job. I am, once again, right beside you.
Kat

Ocean Girl said...

I was thinking of Tom but reading some of the comments I guess I missed the real picture.

The Urban Cowboy said...

Reminded me of when I would receive post cards from grandparents as a child. It was always exciting and new. Thanks for bringing those memories back to the forefront.

Mmm said...

and they weren't even addressed to you?! Whoa. Great twist there to a great story.

steveroni said...

What marvelous writinf, my friend!

I was a little bot in exile on a farm. And I was/became WHOEVER I wished to be except me, the real me.

Do not do that any more.

Thank you SO much for this piece!
And PEACE......

McGillicutty said...

Awesome, I don't know what else to say. Just plain awesome.

Sandra Leigh said...

I've missed reading your stories, Brian. This one is magical. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Magpie said...

Oh, it's sad they weren't really meant for him and what of the little boy who should be getting them and wasn't? I guess "you don't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need". Beautiful, Brian.

Teri said...

For me, it is the M-A-I-L truck that you write about that sparks wonder in me. I have always loved the mailbox and have written about it on my blog too. In fact, doing my job this summer has allowed me to see so many different mailboxes. I plan a post in the next few days, as soon as everything settles down. In the meantime, keep traveling via those postcards. (I also have a postcard collection. I live vicariously through my friends who travel and send me cards.)

lakeviewer said...

You made us feel like the little boy felt, see what he saw, dream with him. Beautifully fantastic.

Susan Deborah said...

Talking of voyeuristic pleasures. Your imagination is priceless. I loved the part when your room transforms into scenes from the postcard.

As always, loved the comments too.

Wishing you blessings and smiles in the month of JULY.

Cheerio,
Susan

Jen said...

I used to have penpals that I exchanged postcards with. I haven't sent or received any in a long time. I kinda miss them...

magiceye said...

that was magical!

Selina Kingston said...

"my bed became moss covered rocks, embedded in the sun warmed sands of my floor" - just gorgeous

Kay said...

Brian, you are a magician, truly. (I know, I know... you hear it all the time-- and love it)!

as do we! :) Bravo!

Pam said...

As an untravelled child growing up in 1950's pre-television Australia,anything beyond the school bus run and short distance to immediate family seemed forever unobtainable.You've captured that feeling so well!

anthonynorth said...

Great imagination in this. We dreamed back then.

Alan Burnett said...

Lovely - it somehow sums up how I feel about postcards (and blogs, their modern equivalent)

william said...

ARTISTIC IMAGINATION MATE, WAITED FOR YOUR POST LAST NIGH BUT FELL ASLEEP LOL, ANYWAY IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT, TC #;)

Just Be Real said...

Talk about imagination! Love it Brian. Blessings.

Baino said...

Ah I remember the joys of postcards. Fortunately they were addressed to me. Lovey reminiscences and depiction of a child's imagination. I'm trying to visualise cafes and the smell of baguettes and coffee. Doesn't come as easily to an adult.

Goofball said...

I start to really feel familiar in your childhood neighbourhood with your in the mean time famous neighbours :)

Now we got to know the mail stealing Mr Hodgkins . nice to meet him

Harnett-Hargrove said...

I do love the idea of living others memories vicariously! Read this twice... -J

Mr. Stupid said...

A child's imagination can be so wonderful. Loved this post, Brian.

natalee said...

I love the connection of stories...

you've captured the feelings I once had as a child... LOVED THIS ONE!!!!!

Mrsupole said...

Hi Brian,

I do not know why that saying "Calgon take me away" comes to my mind, but it does. I think those commercials were supposed to do the same thing as these postcards do.

Our mailbox is in the middle of the block and so we rarely have ever seen our mailperson. When the girls lived here they would run down to the mailbox and pick up the mail every day. Now two weeks can pass before I bother to go down there and clean the box out. It is usually just junk and bills and since I pay my bills through the bank, I rarely even need to see the bills.

It is like having a mailbox at an apartment complex only it is for houses. The only bad thing is that our mailpersons always get our mail mixed up and put into the wrong boxes. It would have been cool to receive a postcard like that.

Great story and show how we all need our imaginations to continue even as an adult. That is why I like to watch the Travel Channel sometimes. Even though you are not there, at least you can pretend your are.

God bless.

Emmanuel Ibok said...

I am running out of praises for you Brian. You write so perfectly and I always enjoy your works. This also was really interesting. The same way you've always got me stuck till the end. Nice one.

Super Cheers!

Susan said...

For that prompt, this came out to be a great story, filled with vivid images.

sarah said...

what a beautifully written account...so vivid I can see it..You inspire me to write better. ☺

Lorraine said...

every child should have a Sam....this is beautiful Brian

Jessie said...

my little postcard simply says, "thank you Brian for sharing your artistic voice. you are so very talented."

warm smiles,

Luisa Doraz said...

You never fail to amaze me. :) Thanks.

Nessa said...

Wonderful. It's like finding a message in a bottle washed upon your shore.

Holly said...

Such depth to your stories....Thank you~

Nessa said...

The Comment Monster is eating my words of wit.

I said, "Wonderful! It's like a message in a bottle washing up on your shore."

AmyLK said...

What a fabulous story. It brings back memories from childhood! Actually, I still wait impatiently for the mail truck to come. :)

Meeko Fabulous said...

Ok . . . When you're on your book tour . . . I want you to sign my copy, k? :)

Mama Wheaton said...

I remember being a child and thinking that someday I would leave my little house and go explore the world. Thanks for a great story.

California Girl said...

poor Tom but lucky you! my uncle was in the merchant marine when I was young and he sent us post cards, strange money & even stranger tokens from all over the world. very exotic at the time because travel was limited to shipboard (expensive) and post-war, Fifties era plane travel (also expensive).

LadyFi said...

Fabulous description of a boy's wonder, curiosity and imagination!

Alix said...

Why did the movie Jumanji come to mind while reading this post?

Maybe because you write such vivid and descriptive prose. What I wouldn't give to live in your head, Brian.

Seriously.

Sam Liu said...

This is an amazing piece of writing, Brian and so endearingly true; the words of others can transport us to far off lands and strengthen our desire to visit them. All novels, after all, are only escapes. And the ending was sharp and brilliant, as ever. Wishing you well,

Your *other* friend,
Sam :D

island of peace said...

this is so beautiful. god bless the mailman. he is a real angel for sure.

those postcards would have meant so much to you. :)

i still love mails

Six Feet Under Blog said...

Love to read through a child's eye.

moondustwriter said...

my kids got rubber bands from the post man - a daily treasure.
Children and their wonder.
Thanks for infusing your stories with that wonder Bri.

I'm on the bluemoon

Betsy said...

I feel like I'm beginning to know Mr. Wilson and Miss Lilly from the connection of stories...

and I wish postcards really did come alive...fun!

Jessie said...

Hey Brian. thanks for the comment on the writing and my new header. i hope you and the fam have a wonderful holiday!
smiles,

drybottomgirl said...

Where the wild things are....lovely writing today. You reminded me of my childhood. We lived further out than all of my friends, so trips to town weren't that frequent and I had to live vicariously through books. I was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Margaret in Judy Blume's famous book, then Anne of Green Gables, and even Nancy Drew...I still love to read, lately a lot of self help but I'm getting ready to go on vacation and I am long overdue for some good fiction.....

Caroline said...

when i grow up - *I choose not to at this point* - i want to write like you

Felicitas said...

I think most of us of a certain age remember the thrill of receiving personal mail like this. But even now, in this electronic age, reaching out from suburbia to people in parts unknown is exciting. I'm sure it's a big reason why we all enjoy blogging so much: living vicariously through the imaginations and experiences of others!

A lovely post, Brian!

Kathy said...

This was AWESOME!! Click...we owe it to ourselves to visit our blues!

buffalodick said...

In 3rd grade, we all got a pen pal from another school..it was always exciting to a kid that age to get mail!

sage said...

what a nice post! As a kid, I had a great uncle who was in the merchant marines and would send post cards from places like Vietnam and Thailand... I only meet the man, my grandmother's brother, a couple of times, but he had no family so he sent cards to us... I wonder what happened to them.

AngelMay said...

This was really wonderful, Brian - but I'm stuck in a groove with a mailman who would give you someone else's mail. I have a fairness gene in me that says, "Whoa on up there, cowboy! You just can't do that!"

But then, maybe the mailman's name was Tom...

Cloudia said...

the beloved parts of our cherished identities are natural friends, even twins of that boy....


you da real thing, Bro

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Grand Pooba said...

I've never been a young boy, but now I know what it must be like!

JamieDedes said...

Lovely! Much the same spirit that this "little girl" received a new book . . . imagination exploding far beyond the pages. Well written, Brian. Congratulation!

Hilary said...

You have such a wonderful imagination. This was wonderful.

morganna said...

Taking me into magical childhood moments -- fantastic! But I can't help but wonder about Tom waiting for his postcards, and a mailman who would steal the mail (or was it his own mail?) But then, if Tom is someone else, did his friendship with Sam survive the missing postcards?

Claudia said...

Almost see this small boy sitting in the house, longing to see the world - ready for a real adventure
You are painting a brilliant picture!

Eleonora said...

I love the images you paint. Always.

This was wonderful, little boy Brian.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow.
Such a great post.
As per usual!

Syd said...

I had a couple of pen pals when I was a kid. I looked forward to their Par Avion onion skin letters. I was a kid growing up in Tidewater, VA and England seemed like a much more sophisticated and exciting place than where I lived. I don't know if I saved those old letters but they were from a fellow named Ian. And we had a back stoop too.

Marla said...

I think little girl minds work the same as little boy minds sometimes. Loved it, Brian. So when do we get to buy a book filled with your writings??

Gladys said...

Love love loved this!

JeffScape said...

Oh, you voyeuristic vicarious brat!

HAHAHAH!

shoelessboywonder said...

Hey you know that poem about me will be spoken word eventually on my offical poetry site www.shoelessboywonder.com but that will be a little ways down the line. Great poetry by they as is to be expected.

Pat said...

This could be made into a children's book. I could just imagine the illustrations. Marvelous! Just marvelous!

Joanna Jenkins said...

The way you described looking at the front of the postcard before you turned it over to actually read was stunning.....

WOW
jj

jake said...

I LOVE IT! That was me as a child, only instead of post cards, it was Harper Lee, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. I would stay up so late as a child getting lost in the places sometimes more than the stories. Wonderful.

adeeyoyo said...

Oh this post is absolutely stunning! Wonderful!

Warm Coco said...

I hope no one sees what I'm going to say: Your posts are the only ones I would read more than once.
Cool work, here.
BTW, I've got a postcard collection that dates back to 1969...

Birdie said...

I love love this post Brian! I understand how the little boy felt with these postcards I know the feeling of that dreaming ... I wonder though how felt Tom not receiving these cards ... thank you for your kind comment Brian, unfortunately blogger did swallow it and did not let me publish :-(

finallygettingtoeven.com said...

Okay I am getting closer to the story, the postcards are from a guy named Sam...I must read on (backwards of course)...just like me

Alice Audrey said...

Not even addressed to him? Oh, intriguing. I'd like to see this developed.