Since my very first day at Kenyon, the 1940s-era Gambier Post Office has been one of my favorite spots on campus. Yes, I’ll admit it may sound a bit weird, but I can explain. While most colleges offer students a mailing service located in a student center of sorts, Kenyon students access their mail through the Gambier Post Office. Situated between the Gates of Hell and the First-Year Quad, the Post Office is one of my favorite destinations at Kenyon.
Gambier acts as a sort of eccentric village in the middle of a college. Think if you took one of those small villages from “Masterpiece” on PBS and plopped it down in the middle of Ohio. Coming from Massachusetts, it was a bit of an adjustment moving to the Midwest and being so far from home. As someone who always loved the thrill of receiving a handwritten letter, my Mom promised to write to me, signature lipstick stamp and perfume-scented envelopes and all. Obviously, to me this meant I should check my P.O. Box at the Post Office every single day without fail. Despite the sad disappointment of unlocking the brass box with my key to find it empty on many occasions, the Post Office offered me a sense of independence that I had been unable to find at home. There is something uniquely independent in being able to go check for your own, personal mail at an old-timey Post Office, and I love it.
I will admit, though, that mail is not the only fabulous part of the Post Office that I adore. Seeing as I had been going to the building every single day without fail, I soon became friendly with the locals who work there. When my Mom sent me a plastic moose from New Hampshire in the mail, no box or anything, the lovely people who work at the Post Office were so excited by the strange moose that they made a little cage for it out of a shipping container and some tape. The residents of Gambier are what make Kenyon’s campus so wonderfully unique, as their kindness and openness adds a beautiful dimension to an already friendly student body. The Post Office is merely one example of this, with frequent chats with your neighbors while you wait in the package pick-up line, or getting on a first-name basis with the people who work behind the window. It offers a sense of community even when you’re far from home.
Now that my trips to the Post Office are no longer daily, with me living Kenyon’s version of “far away” on the South Quad, my visits to go check for mail, say “Hi” to a Gambier resident I’ve become friendly with or casually run into a group of friends are that much more special. I wouldn’t want it any other way.