Thursday, July 24, 2008

postcards & last suppers & family far away

I had dinner with Nathan, my Nater Tater, tonight, and even though he's not actually leaving for Portland for another month or so, it is likely that this might have been our last dinner together, just the two of us.

We were waxing nostalgic for this past year, this shared time here in New York City, these semi-weekly sibling dinners, at his place or at mine, that have become such a normal, such a wonderful and welcome and routine, part of our lives.

I was having dinner at Nate's place tonight, drinking wine and keeping him company as he chopped onions and garlic, boiled water, and picked windowsill basil for a delicious pasta, when I saw a postcard on his counter and, in my ever nosy fashion, flipped it over to see who it was from.

I should have known, really, given that I've been getting similar postcards or cards or packages for over fourteen years now. These weekly mailings arrive like clockwork from Anacortes, from our mother, sharing her daily goings-on with us in a simple intimacy that continues to amaze me.

They're full of little news, by which I mean the small intricacies of a life full of contentment, full of amusement and affection for the people and places and things inhabiting this life.

I asked Nate if he keeps any of these cards and he gave me a look and said yes, of course, all of them. And I felt guilty, because I don't. I keep my favorites on the refrigerator with a magnet, replacing them every so often with a new favorite. And I keep all the rest in piles scattered around my apartment for awhile until a cleaning frenzy kicks in (more rarely than I would care to admit) and I throw away everything that has accumulated on the dresser or the counter or the floor next to the bed in the preceding months.

I was talking with Sarah once, years ago, about these weekly notes, about how Mom has been sending them almost without fail since I graduated from high school. And Sarah was silent for a moment, and looked far away, and finally said, "You must have boxes of them. These pieces of her life."

I don't, even though sometimes I feel like I should. Which is kind of funny, because between Nathan and me, you might guess that I'm the more sentimental of the two, certainly the more overtly (some might argue just plain overly) emotional, and yet it is he who is keeping these cards, these notes, these little windows into our mother's world.

Maybe that's okay. Maybe I can be the overly sentimental of the two, the one more inclined to self-indulgent ramblings and crying jags and giggles, and he can be the steadfast keeper of the cards.

She'll know that we both love her, that we both adore her, in our oddly complementary practical and sentimental ways.


Dear Emily,

This is an odd little card, but the bunny must be wishing you a Happy Easter!

I talked to G. Mac* on Saturday, & she sounded pretty happy. She's feeling well, too. She's saving stamps for Paul & always asks when we're coming down to get them!

Have a good week!

Mom & Paul

P.S. I made curtains for the kitchen nook windows - they look cute!"

*Grandma McNeil

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