orbeez

The mailman hands Gri a small, oblong package marked with foreign stamps and caligraphy. He brings it in and shows me, “It’s from China,” he explains. “Do you know what it is?” I ask. “Not a clue. Do you?” “Nope..” This is a common exchange in our household, where parcels and packages of all caliber arrive almost daily. He starts tearing impatiently through the tape, “Shall we find out?” Not waiting for an answer he pulls a piece of triangular, folded cardboard out of the shipping bag. It’s orange with Russian lettering: Sanaga, where the tools are just that good. China? With Russian packaging? Upon closer examination, we see that it’s from a Sanaga branch in Vladivostok, which kind of makes more sense, geographically. But then we also notice that its headquarters are in Tel Aviv. Sincerely stumped at the possible content, we pry the box open and…seven brightly colored pea-sized squishy gelatinous balls make their appearance. “Of course!” Gri exclaims, “These are the self-growing jelly balls I ordered for Verusha a couple of weeks ago!” Naturally.

With globalization and commercialization in full swing, the age of the internet brings the fulfillment of all of our material wants within a finger’s reach, and right to our very doorstep. Some deliveries take two days, many take several weeks and, if buying artisan objects from around the world through Etsy, even months. So, it’s no wonder that sometimes we lose track. We can allow ourselves a break from the relentless tracking and keeping track, but we cannot lag too behind in the handling of the relentless flow of boxes crowding us in our own hearth and home. Cats sleep in them, children play in them, we trip over them and shuffle them to one side, and ultimately we Cut, Collapse, Stage in the recycling area and Haul outside every Thursday. Our home is a veritable post dispatch.

If we fall behind, the boxes threaten to pack us in and ship us to Thailand. So, Cut, Collapse, Stage and Haul we must.

Stranger things have come to us than colorful, translucent gellatinous self-growing orbs. We start thinking back: 36 miniature glass birds, rooibos tea from South Africa (the only place in the world where it is grown), Russian stamps, marinated fennel with orange rind, Timothy hay for guinea pigs, seashells, old brass instruments in moldy cases, Malachite from the Congo, a 19th century watercolor, small plastic mushrooms (a bag of 47), green cheetah ripstick wheels, black seamless scull face tube mask, 4,000 Orbeez, wedding bands (2), Eastwing E24A sportsman hatchet and a 16″ Rinco boomerang. If Peter the Great decided to assemble a Künst Kamera in the 21st century, our home would be a great place to start. Granted, many of the objects that come in eventually find their way out – as gifts to friends, purchases for those who do not have credit cards, and objects stealthily dumped into the trash in the deep of night.

Cheaper objects get stacked by the mailman wherever they fit, and especially around Christmas time they cover half of our door and create fire hazards. More expensive articles require signatures, trips to the post office, urine samples and retinal scans. The most expensive object we’ve ever received by mail was a custom-made sound system purchased for a Russian heart surgeon that topped 10K. Anyone other than a devout musicophile wouldn’t even know what to do with the thing, but we were still on edge when it arrived in a small, nondescript box requiring no receipt confirmation of any kind. Another time a weeping willow came in the mail, soil pack and all. Flowers from secret admirers, hate letters delivered to the wrong address…And of course the time Gri and I both ordered the same, identical game (Carcassonne) without telling each other about it, and both came the same day and we both thought Amazon made a mistake by sending us double.

As we reminisce, we notice the delivery man drop another box outside. Gri goes to open it, and, slightly confused, comes back to me. “Did you order these?” This time it’s nothing so exotic. Just your usual gray baseball pants, youth medium size. “I’m working to expand my style.” I grin back. “The cleats should come in tomorrow…”

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