I'm counting up lasts now. I don't have a concrete ETD - too much to do, too much to do - and I never made a list of Things to Do Before I Go. But the lasts are piling up around me nonetheless.

I'm restless. I'm unmotivated. I want to fast forward to liquid lunches and afternoon rendezvous or, failing that, my next phase of employment. I do not, objectively, want to be here any more than I ever did.

Then things like this afternoon happen. First, the drive home for lunch with nobody barking as I rolled into the driveway (Geoff was put down Saturday after a week refusing to eat or drink). Next, the chat with the dogcatcher I was supposed to interview today (he had to cancel, and I nearly found myself asking why he Had to Go to the Landfill while on dogcatcher duty). Then, my last visit to TVCC to visit with the choral director there (and first visit to the performing arts center in several months).

The coup de grace, though: I bought stamps for the first time since my postman died. Penpals and mailorder were a big part of what made growing up in this town bearable for a girl like me. Buying stamps from Post Office Dave (eulogized as "Weiser's Own Jolly Postman") made it better than bearable. He was the sort to learn everybody's name and shout it when you walked in the door (my mother and I, arriving in tandem at quarter of five, were MIZ MCCURDY AND MISS MCCURDY; I was MISSSSS MCCURDY when I came in solo). He wasn't a bad guesser at what types of stamps you liked and what type of weighing/stamping workload you required (one of the other quarter-of-fivers we saw an almost-daily basis was a lawyer's wife, for instance, who always needed about $40 worth of postage to mail a metal basket worth of paperwork). He managed all of this without being creepy or invasive at any point. He was also well-read and chucklesome.

He told my sixth-grade career day group he was going to retire years ago, but for whatever reason, he never did. Then he got sick. Bad, and suddenly: He just couldn't breathe, and was gone within a week.

So there I was today, quarter of five, with Mrs. Walker the lawyer's wife and Bob, Dave's quieter colleague. A familiar but unsettling scene: too quiet. It must have been a month ago now but all we have for each other are forced, funereal smiles and I know if any one of us says his name I'm not going to make it through the transaction without crying.

I make it, but just barely. There was no funeral and I'm not even positive there's a grave, but they did erect a bench on the Post Office grounds. I inspect it, briefly, then get in my car and go. It's a brief cry and a brief drive and presumably I'm ready for what's next now.