When I Was Your Age

Mail call.

These are my friends Mail Duck and Package Penguin. They're the guardians of my mailbox key, as you can see from the picture above.

Most days, the birds bring me paycheck stubs, sweepstakes offers, coupons, or various news of who is or isn't attending my upcoming nuptials. The RSVPs had been flowing like wine, but their frequency has decreased in the last few weeks.

Today, my mailbox was barren. I flipped my hand inside the empty space, clanked the metal door shut, and trudged upstairs.

By the time my kids get married (My god, did I just type that? I don't even want kids yet, let alone have them.) they'll probably be inviting their guests to birthday parties via e-mail, but for now, by and large, we all rely on paper and stamps to let our loved ones know what's going on and when to be there.

I generally feel lucky to live when I'm living. I know it's premature to be nostalgic at 24, but when I compare where technology is now to where it was when I was eight or nine years old, it's really quite amazing.

I was born at the tail end of 1982, right when CDs and CD players were getting affordable. I remember my father had a portable Discman and a cassette jack for his car. I wasn't allowed to touch his CDs or the Discman or the stereo it was attached to. When I was eleven my parents got my brother, sister, and me a boombox with a CD player for Christmas. We also each got one CD and took turns freaking my mother out by rewinding through individual tracks, convincing her that the discs would soon be belched out, scratched and smoking.

Then, not even ten years later, .mp3 players hit the market. This past year for Christmas my fiance gave me an iPod - my very first iPod - and within a week I had almost every song on every CD I owned on that iPod. My mother also gave me an iPod for Christmas - the smaller, iPod Shuffle. I've taken to using that one more and more often since its clip allows me to wear it easily when exercising or walking to work. About once a week I'll look at the Shuffle and get blown away. This small box, no bigger than a guitar pick, can hold so much information. I mean, laptops are big enough that you can expect a lot of information and DVDs are so similar to CDs that you aren't really that surprised, but this thing is small enough for me to shove up my own ass and it holds hours upon hours of music.

What the hell?

My cellphone has a camera, .mp3 player, camcorder, video games, and Internet access. When I was growing up, it was pulling teeth to get my dad to buy an answering machine. "If they need me bad enough, they'll call me back," was his philosophy.

One of my best friends, Dave, won't even accept directions from me anymore. He'd rather take the mailing address and plug it into his GPS.

Which begs the question: What do you do with a mailing address when no mail comes? With electronic bill paying, e-mails and IMs, and online catalogues, the idea of paper mail is becoming obsolete. There's little to no need for paper letters, newspapers, or magazines anymore. I suppose you'll need a street address for receiving all the fine goods you purchase on Amazon.com or eBay or whatever, but, really, isn't it time for some sort of pneumatic tube system to replace UPS? Am I right?

Probably not.

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