- Vol. 06
- Chapter 01
I don’t remember much. I remember bits and pieces. I remember the way certain things felt, the way certain people made me feel, I remember the half-timbered facade of a house in a sleepy town with tall brick chimneys and a dog with fluffy ears and a superiority complex, I remember dad’s lack of humor and mom’s absence of light and sister’s castle built as protection against the Saxons, and I remember another house in another town facing cobbled streets glistening in the moonlight where we could be whoever we wanted to, I remember scraping our knees, roughhousing on street corners and the smells, the first smell of wakening roots, a change of smell in the air before the first snow, the scent of pleasantly burning beech and maple in granny’s kitchen where we pricked potatoes with forks, learned how to knit and laughed at pictures of the olden days, and the sweet and salty smell of her pie with cottage cheese and eggs and how her rough hands felt on my smooth cheeks, and playing hide and seek, with us hiding under the bed or behind grandma’s back and grandpa seeking our extradition (boy, did his butt-pinch hurt!), and I remember our first kiss under the big mahogany sun when you called me your princess because of a pink daisy chain in my hair. I don’t remember when I first saw bulldozers and excavators but I remember the smell of something burning, and the ground violently shaking beneath my feet, I remember them dissolving into laughter, a metal hand the size of granny’s kitchen, crooked teeth and pointed nails clawing at my playgrounds and my trees. I remember having to face something I didn’t know existed with its ebbs and flows, ERs, motherly instincts and dirty laundry as tall as a house I once knew, I remember how pennilessness felt in my stomach, unpaid bills, missiles swooshing by, bombs thundering day in day out, I remember move-ins and move-out cleanings, changing friends, skies, currencies and job markets like socks, callous comments and flawless public facades hiding private despairs.
I became quite an expert in origami, folding, pressing and crushing old paper with meticulous care into picture-perfect figures I put in a scrapbook I rarely open. But every now and then, I look back to a city which knew me well and, making sure I carefully unwrap it, I glue together all the loose pieces and sit in its lap to watch my houses, my rooftops and my trees, and inhale. And though the skies turned pale, and the purple suns faded, and the lights burn low, and the people and cobblestone streets are long gone, the one thing I clearly see is a lighthouse with mom’s beacon light to guide me at rough seas and the playground of my childhood in the shade of fragrant black mulberry trees where we used to be happy and free.