at the edge of the world with my jeans rolled to the knee, i thought of you as i walked along that cold, beautiful line of surf and sand. i looked out across the expanse of the pacific to where the water meets the sky and thought of Germany, thought of you; your young, bright self bouncing across cobblestone and drinking beer. i played the morrissey song "everyday is like sunday" over and over again as i walked from the pier to the cliffs. i smiled against the wind and thought, "where'd you get off to, woman? you should be here."
and then a week later, a box arrives at my front door. i look at the return address and see its from my ex-stepfather. i push the box against the wall in the kitchen and walk away. i knew what the box contained... something i've been waiting for for well over a year, something i cried over the last time i held it in my hands the day after you died: the photo album of your high school graduation, mama, your days as a young GI in Hannover, and the early days of your marriage to my father.
i went to my room with a cup of coffee and wrote for awhile but the gravity of your arrival pulled me back to the kitchen. i grabbed a knife out of the drawer and cut the packing tape in a clean, careful slice. i needed to know if this treasure had truly arrived, if i'd finally received something i've been waiting for for so long. i folded back the edge of the cardboard box and brushed away foam peanuts to find your painting and another small box. i lifted the small box out, set it on the kitchen table, and looked inside.
i couldn't look for long before i felt the sting of tears in my eyes and throat. i bore the pain dryly, just long enough to photograph my treasure and to pay honor to the arrival of such a beloved and long-awaited piece of my disheveled family history.
young and fresh and beautiful at 19 years old, that's my mama on the lower right.
such a beauty.
where'd you get off to, woman? you should be here.