One of the key benefits to living in a condo- at least in my opinion- is all of the incorrectly addressed mail I’ve received over the years. While some might consider this a nuisance, I consider it a welcome (albeit creepy) glimpse into other people’s lives.
First there was the mail belonging to the previous tenant; some dude named Tom who really loved J.Crew and had a serious beef with Rogers telecom. Then, there was the crisp, new yearbook, addressed to Mike, a recent University of Toronto grad. Looked like a fun year, Mike!
My favourite of all, however, was the random postcard I received from the Edinburgh Zoo addressed to Julie Choi. Adorned with two impossibly cute pandas, the postcard filled Julie in on the sender’s travel so far, and signed off with “let’s meet up in October!”
While I loved the pandas fiercely, I felt a sense of obligation to return this postcard to its rightful recipient. So I slipped it into the “Incorrectly Addressed Mail” box in my mail room and hoped for the best.
A couple of weeks later, I checked my mail again, and like an incredibly cute boomerang, the pandas had made their way back to me.
And that’s when I really started to wonder, just who was this Julie Choi? I assumed from the mix-up that her address must be very similar to mine, which meant she either lived in the next building, or was my immediate next door neighbor. From then on, I found myself listening extra intently to the muffled sounds of the adjacent apartment. Is that you, Julie? I wondered.
But then another thought occurred to me. What if Julie did live in my unit – but in a parallel universe?
In my deluded brain, rendered porous by prolonged isolation and loneliness, I was convinced it was highly probable that Julie and I were actually occupying the same apartment in different tracts of space or time. This letter must have slipped through some sort of wormhole temporarily opened up by an inexplicable force- like on that TV show Sliders. I took a deep breath, fully expecting Jerry O’Connell to burst into my apartment and stun me with a neutralyzer, erasing all memory of this event.
No dice. I guess he and Rebecca Romijn must have been busy or something.
Anyway I started wondering what this parallel universe might be like. Obviously somewhat similar to ours in the sense that its inhabitants lived in condos and sent novelty postcards. Other than that, it was anyone’s guess. Maybe they weren’t people at all, but some sort of panda-loving cro-magnon species who subsisted on a diet of Fro-yo, fear, and carbon monoxide. I don’t know.
It’s been over a year since I received that postcard, and October has long come and gone. I have no way of knowing, but I hope that Julie did meet up with her cro-magnon friends in Edinburgh, because otherwise I’d feel sort of responsible.
As for me? I’m still trying to figure out the significance of this whole event.
Psychologist Albert Bandura has said that chance encounters have a prominent impact on shaping human lives. Some touch only lightly, others leave more lasting effects, and some lead people into new life trajectories altogether.
While I think this encounter is likely more of the “light touch variety”, I’ve kept the postcard anyway. It sits in my memory box, along with my concert tickets, letters and movie stubs- it’s jovial black and white pandas a reminder of how wonderfully random life can sometimes be.