Once I directed friends to my house by telling them that I was the second duct-taped mailbox down the street on the left.
This is no longer true. My neighbors replaced their embarrassment with a more sturdy stone model. My mailbox, however, remains, though the tape itself has been replaced several times. The tape is going through a blue period right now. This is impermanent—Dad says that he’s going to buy orange for Halloween and red or green for Christmas.
According to my mom our mailbox has been on its last leg since we moved here, about seventeen years ago. I can’t remember it then, only its present incarnation--a rusty pole upholding a teetering grey box with a rounded top, covered in tape. My first memory of it is when my little sister’s friend scribbled, Come down and play, on the side of it with a rock.
You can still see the remnants of the writing slanting across its increasingly faded exterior.
Mom bought a new shiny red mailbox, but its still sitting in our garage. As residue from her less feminist days, my mom insists that putting up mailboxes (like stringing Christmas lights) is a man's job and Dad has steadfastly refused to put it up.
We're unable to determine if that is due to his general disinclination to fix/repair/install anything, or the defiant pride he has in our mailbox's similarly defiant ugliness and absolute refusal to fall to time or weather.