Saturday, December 22, 2007

What they know

My younger son is here for the long weekend; actually he's not here right at this minute, because he's at a friend's Yule party. But his arrival this morning made me think about how much the postal worker who delivers the mail knows about this household.

He or she probably noticed the divorce, when I stopped taking mail for my ex-husband. (I still occasionally get some, ten years on.) And when I remarried, and mail for my new husband started arriving. When I changed my name, too.

The person who delivers the mail has seen a lot of other stuff. The magazines I've taken over the years: Parents, Mothering, Analog (sf/f), Bitch (feminism), Ms. (also feminism), Tikkun (Jewish Progressive), The Week (news), Sunset (lifestyles: cooking, gardening, home decor and design, travel). The bills I get, and the catalogs. The occasional holiday or birthday card. Postcards from traveling friends.

We've obviously got a high school senior in the house this year, because we started getting mailings from all branches of the armed forces addressed to him. And yet we don't really: my younger son lives in another town with his dad, 100 miles away from here. Some of the other mail doesn't tell a true story about us, as well.

But still, the idea that someone I've never even seen (probably more than one someone--I'm pretty sure our Saturday delivery person is different from the weekday, and they must take vacation occasionally) might be constructing a fantasy image of the family who lives here based on the mail is amusing. We all do it, we all make up a fantasy about people who tangent or intersect our lives, and it's all based on not enough information, no matter how much information you have.

Do we ever really know another? Is it possible? I know I am not the different people each of my friends thinks I am, by varying amounts and in varying directions--at minimum I am more than they know. I ascribe motive and choice to lots of things I observe, and I doubt I'm right very often, so my friends and family are also more than I know.

I deeply desire to be known, and loved for who I am. I'm not sure it's possible, though.

No comments: