Mailbox Dreams

By Brian Lies '85 / July/August 2013
July 2nd, 2013

Recently a classmate posted on Facebook that the Brown Bookstore was selling the Faunce House Post Office boxes as piggy banks. You could even request your old number.

Since graduating in 1985, I’ve often dreamed about my PO box. I wander an unfamiliar campus, realizing that tons of mail must have accumulated. Where is the PO, anyway?

That I still have these dreams says a lot about the importance of mail in those pre-Internet days. Checking the PO was a daily routine.

Through the tiny window in your box’s ornate door you might see only flimsy campus announcement slips, but occasionally you’d spy something substantial, spinning the twin dials to find—yes!—a handwritten letter or a colored card indicating a package waiting to be picked up. You’d get that dopamine blast that keeps gamblers gambling—the power of infrequent reward.

Back in the days when each minute of a long-distance phone call ran up your bill, letters from home were special. Seniors could learn their fate through that tiny portal: the formal envelope of a job offer or a grad school acceptance letter. Or a rejection letter, a cold blast of the reality outside the Van Wickle Gates.

Years later, on campus for reunion, I stopped by my old box and dialed “F–P.” The door swung open. I was home again.

Photograph by Erik Gould 

Editor's note: For more information about the mailboxes, do not call the Brown Bookstore. See a list of available mailboxes here or phone David Parry ’80 at 917.305.3201 for more information.

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July/August 2013