(recovered email, 2009)

There are a million small things that tether us to the world: memories, or yearbooks, or people who remember you in certain situations and phases of your life. I’m good with the memory part, I can recall to a ridiculous degree things I’ve done and places I’ve been and the plaid shirt I was wearing the night in high school when I saw Gus Van Zant’s remake of Psycho. Even with people I feel okay, that there are enough people out there who have known me at various stages of my life to be able to remind me about myself.

But what happened to my books, to my dolls, to the limited edition union jack doc marten boots I wore every day of high school? To the concert ticket stubs, the journals upon journals, pairs of old pointe shoes, my 30-odd dance skirts, all the dresses I made? Things, to be sure. Things I rarely, if ever, think about. But things that are pieces of me, pieces of my history.
Right now, I have the barest handful of things from my life pre-2000. I have mom’s quilts, I have dad’s twinkly light lamp from college, I have stuffed Peter and blankie, and my Minolta. And my old bible too, if I want to count that. That is it. Those are the only possessions I have had for longer than eight years. After twenty seven years of living, I am surrounded by less than half those years. I don’t even have photographs–besides one or two of dad I took in college and one awkward family portrait from the last time I was home–that locate me in a specific time and place. The funny picture Matt sent of me in the red pinafore and sunglass frames is the only evidence I have that I was once a little, kind of weird, kid. That’s all the proof I have of a me, before. 

It’s strange to be a sort of turtle. To have a physical existence only a few years old, to carry my life with me wherever I go. Sometimes when I fall asleep I wander through the house I knew so well and say hello to the pictures, to the sheets of piano music I played, to Tennyson whistling in his cage. I see the tile mosaic floor in the entryway, count the steps (16) upstairs, I feel the cut glass doorknobs in my hand, and remember that the third drawer of the linen chest always sticks a little, there are flowers growing over the pet graveyard behind the fern patch, bugs that live under the birdbath, the musty smell of the garage and the bike shed door that always gives splinters, the flagstones that get so hot on summer days, the planters of impatiens that are the only flowers will grow in the shade, the glider I read all my saturday library books on, the bumps in the sidewalk you have to watch out for when rollerblading, the concord grapes that should be ripe now in the alley. Thousands of small details I never consciously noticed come out as I fall alseep.