February 2, 2014
I miss you.
I came to the bottom of the box today. This is what it looked like full:
Laundry labels and loose stamps. Your name over and over again. A brass buckle. The brown bit near the bottom of the picture is Tyger’s repair kit: thread, needle, tiny scissors. Did you borrow his kit to sew those labels in the collars and waistbands of your utilities and fail to return it? Sorry, Honey. That’s unfair. I know you couldn’t return it. Bad things happened.
It’s Sunday and the sun is burning off the marine layer here at Rancho Santini. I’ve been living here at the edge of the ocean for two years now. It’s a good place to be. More about that later, if I have time. I can’t help but smile, remembering your patience when any tale that I had to share became side-tracked with offshoots and details and offshoots off other offshoots until neither one of us knew where I’d started or what the hell it was I’d intended to share. Can you tell? I haven’t changed much in the past quarter century!
Finding the box came about because I’d been emptying the living areas of my belongings up in Cottonwood: Eight years of crafting supplies! Twelve-plus years of books! Forty-plus years of photos and memorabilia! (Let’s not talk about clothes.) I carried a whole lot of bin liner bags and boxes of “things” to the Salvation Army during the five weeks spent in Cottonwood. Your letters surprised me the first week—the eighth or ninth of November.
Boxes are patient. They don’t grumble about where they’ve been stashed or how long they’ve been ignored. I knitted through my evenings, working a stockinette-stitched multi-colored shawl to the size of a poncho. The box just sat there, occupying the left side of the bed, a transparent bag of various yarns weighting down the lid. Honey, it was so much easier to knit a long row, turn the bulk of the shawl in my lap, purl a row back to the other end, than handle what was waiting inside that damned box. You’d have thought it was a box of snakes.
Then, the lid was tipped. Had I pulled too hard on a tangle of yarn in the bag? Is this what set the lid on edge? I started to readjust it, but didn’t. Maybe my fingers were tired of knit-purl exercises; maybe the joints ached; maybe it seemed like an omen. Your left-slanted penmanship stared up at me from an envelope.
On November 12, 2013, I handled that envelope again. I felt a shiver. I mean, c’mon Alsie … there I was holding a gritty envelope stamped Nov 13 A.M. 1966 on the twelfth of November in 2013 … tell me that’s not bizarre! The letter inside was written November 11, 1966. On the twelfth of November 2013, I’d opened your letter written on November 11, 1966 and posted on the thirteenth. Did it mean something? Anything? This alignment of numbers—11, 12, 13? It was the day’s date, a date that won’t reappear for a hundred years. I think it meant something—my tiny re-purposed-energy-blink-of-universe Alsie. Call me crazy, but I think maybe you twitched out there in the where-ever and set that lid ajar.
Ok. So that was November. Now it’s February. This is what my table in the townhouse I rent on the edge of the ocean looked like yesterday:
The box was still half full when I took this picture.