About a year ago my friend, Cheryl, and I drove south to visit the Kindred Spirit mailbox on Bird Island. Bird Island is in NC close to the border between North and South Carolina. From the pier at Sunset beach, we walked a little over a mile during low tide to reach the mailbox. Several articles have been written about Kindred Spirit and it was even featured on CBS News; I wanted to explore it for myself. It has since become one of my favorite outings. Recently, I was looking for something to do when I realized that Wrightsville Beach also houses a mailbox on the north end of the beach near Mason Inlet. I learned that the mailbox was originally placed on the beach in 2003 by a couple, was taken up for a while and housed in the Wrightsville Beach museum then replaced by university students in 2014. Just like Kindred Spirit, it is very popular. I decided I needed to make the trek.
On an overcast but unseasonably warm day in the winter, I drove to the beach, rolled up my pants and set out on my quest. There were quite a few people on the beach taking advantage of the nice day. I walked toward Mason Inlet and Figure Eight Island in search of the box, but did not see it. I walked as far as I could along the inlet away from the ocean toward the sound. The roar of the waves faded behind me. No mailbox. I turned around and walked back to the ocean and the dunes. I had assumed the mailbox would be behind the dunes, but they were sectioned off for nesting. Still, I kept my eyes peeled as I walked back the way I came. A flock of pipers ran along the water and hopped in the sand nearby. Well, I thought, if I don’t find it, I’ll be disappointed but today won’t be a total waste. After all, anytime you can stroll on the beach, admire the water and watch the creatures, you haven’t really wasted your time, have you? A young woman walking her dog noticed me and called out, “Are you looking for the mailbox?”
“Yes!” I answered.
“There are two of them”, she said “They were moved closer to the hotel because of the nests. I missed them, too, when I first looked”.
I thanked her and headed back to the Shell Island resort where I easily found the boxes–filled with journals–stacked one on top of the other. I noticed what appeared to be the original mailbox to the left of the stacked boxes, rusted out with a shell inside. I pulled a journal from one of the other boxes, sat on the sand, and flipped through the pages.
There are a few things that draw me to these boxes. First of all, there is always a little micro-journey involved with locating the box. Secondly, there is something about these mailboxes that brings out the best in people, from the couple who originally placed the box on the beach for the enjoyment of others to the girl with the dog, eager to help me because she wanted me to have the same experience that she had enjoyed; but what fascinates me most and probably everyone who is intrigued by them, is what they do for people. They offer people an opportunity to express themselves, to make their voices heard, and yet remain anonymous. It’s the best of both worlds. We all want to be recognized as special and yet we want to remain safe. The messages and emotions expressed on just the few pages that I read were as diverse as the people who left them.
Guilt and shame: Today I feel guilt…I fear no one believes I can stay clean…I feel guilty for lying to her because I know I can’t be with her.
Hope: We are going to make it! Our love will keep us strong.
Praise: 44th anniversary. Praise God!
Mischief: I will if you will.
And mine: Thank you for replacing this mailbox. This journey to the end of the beach is going to be my first blog. We are blessed!
All of us reaching into the air, reaching out to God maybe or at least a stranger who is not already fed up with our antics, can see us objectively and might hope for our success.
I have started to wonder how many such mailboxes exist. I’ve found two in North Carolina. Are there others? Certainly, there must be. If so, maybe I’ll visit them one day. I’m always up for a trek.