A Blue Slip and a Bag of Letters

The bookstore where my uncle bought them isn’t in Springfield anymore. My grandmother and I used to walk there, to the area of downtown where there was a mall with department stores that all smelled of the same perfume. On one floor of the bookstore, there were long cases of porcelain dolls, I used to go and stare at them. In another part, there were acres of used books. I didn’t appreciate the importance of those then. 

So I said yes, and now something of my mother’s is in my house in Brooklyn. Who knows if they’ll stay there or not; one of my missions in life is remain as portable as possible, so I tend to shed unnecessary objects. But saying yes to them felt like something important, I said yes to them because I couldn’t do what I needed to do, which was ask my uncle questions about my mother. It would have been simple enough to say yes, I would like the bookends, please, and tell me the story behind them, and also, what else do you know about her?

When I think about asking my questions, I feel self conscious, suddenly. Now, in my thirties, there are things I want to know? Why now? Why after all this time, when there’s this divide, this rift, geographically and emotionally, between me and everyone related to my mother? Why not before, when it was easy? (Before what? Was it ever easy?) By saying yes to these weird, clunky bookends, I was trying to get out of asking questions. It’s as though I think I can learn backwards, or learn without, or just somehow know. Like if I put my hands on them, I’ll understand, and not have to do something uncomfortable or awkward or painful to someone else.

I’m not clairvoyant, unfortunately, so I still have to ask the questions. I sent some emails this week, one to a cousin, another to someone who knew my mother in high school. No specifics, just, can I ask you some questions? Would that be okay?


photo credit: Today is a good day via photopin cc