Kindred Spirit Mailbox
The Kindred Spirit Mailbox is located on Sunset Beach in Bird Island in the Outer Banks. Sunset Beach is in the southeastern part of North Carolina. The Mailbox is in the middle of nowhere, and letter writers have to take a long walk to reach it. It is on a secluded stretch of the beach. The mailbox is far from the nearest public access point. It sits quietly between sand dunes on the beach.
The unlikely location has become popular over the years. It is a way for people to release pent up tensions. People from all walks of life have walked the long stretch. They come to write letters to lovers, friends, and even the universe. The 30-minute walk is a worthy experience and often very reflective.
The island is adjacent to Sunset Beach Town. The island can be accessed by walking on the seashore leading to the South Carolina border. Previously, the island and Sunset Beach were separated by a thin piece of land. This has since been washed away to join the two lands as one.
There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the Kindred Spirit mailbox. No one knows exactly who placed it where it is.
One of the speculative stories is that the original kindred spirit had a vision. That she saw a mirage of a mailbox on the shore and got the idea to place it. This version suggests that the vision was unreal. It was however inspiring enough to need action. It inspired the kindred spirit to place the mailbox as a communal journal. This would allow visitors to document their visit to the beach. It gained popularity as people came to sit on the beach and write about their thoughts.
Frank Nesmith’s Theory
The mailbox is manned by an 88-year-old man named Frank Nesmith. He talks of the mailbox as if it were a person. The mailbox is a woman, according to him. He has looked after the mailbox for more than 30 years and claims it was the idea of a woman named Claudia.
Nesmith dated Claudia in the 1970s. He claims he first heard of the idea of a mailbox on the beach from her. He is helped in maintaining the mailbox by two people, Sandy Payne and Jacqueline DeGroot. DeGroot confirms Nesmith’s theory about Claudia’s idea. She exchanged letters with Claudia for years before her passing in 2013.
DeGroot claims Claudia had the image of the mailbox on the beach for years. It came to her every once in a while. The idea became a reality when she visited Sunset Beach. She preferred her identity to remain anonymous when she was alive. This fueled the theories on the origin of the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.
The First Mailbox
Claudia installed the mailbox on the Tubbs Inlet. It was placed on a small spit of sand separating Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach. The small island was washed away over time due to changing tides. This forced the mailbox to move to Bird Island.
The new location was identified in 1983 and attracted many tourists. At the time, there was an inlet between Bird Island and Sunset Beach. Tourists would swim across forceful waters to get to the mailbox. If they did not want to swim, they were forced to wait till low tide to walk across.
The first mailbox was swept out to sea by Tropic Storm Ana.
The Kindred Spirit Mailbox
The mailbox is held up by a smoothed driftwood post. This is the same post that held up the first mailbox before it was swept away. Volunteers recovered it after the storm had passed. There is a red flag perched on the mailbox. It reminds people of the importance of such a mundane thing as the mailbox.
There is always a notebook in the mailbox. Sometimes, previously filled notebooks accompany the unfilled one. This helps visitors to know they are not alone. It fills people with hope that others too have stood where they are. The filled notebooks are a testament to what the mailbox represents. Hopes, fears, and dreams of many are on those pages.
The unfilled notebook is for people to write what they want. There are no criteria for what is allowed. The pages have different feelings, fears, and hopes. Some choose to write letters to people who have passed away. Some confess their sins while others fill the pages with their dreams. The notebook does not discriminate and allows everyone to write what they feel. Some write one-liners while others fill the blank lines with poetry.
You can go through past notebooks that were filled with the thousands of visitors to the mailbox.
Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks
The idea of Nicholas Sparks’ novel came from the Kindred Spirit mailbox. He visited the island and was inspired by people writing letters about everything to no one. It allowed him to develop a novel based on the mailbox. Sparks has been known to include letter writing in his novels. The Kindred Spirit mailbox provided inspiration for his new book. He recommends visiting Bird Island and as a result, the mailbox.
To get to the mailbox, there is a stretch of beach that you will walk on. You may need to be prepared mentally for the 30-minute hike under a scorching summer sun. Most people find the walk reflective. They use the journey to the mailbox to think about what they will write in the journals. The journey back is to reflect on choices and what to do about their situation. It is a two-mile round trip. You can however rent a bike at Sunset Beach. This allows you more time to write and read the notebooks.
Anonymity is a choice. Some people choose to leave their writing without a name. Some sign with one or both names. Others choose to place their initials on the notebook. Whether you wish to place your name or not is your choice.
Kindred Spirit Mailbox provides a therapeutic chance for people. It allows them to get things off their chest. It is a chance to reflect on what is important to you as an individual. The trip is worth each step on the beach.