That was then

Italy, 1964

Dear Mother,

This should have your special consideration. The lighter it is the better, but it must be strong. If you’re going by air, remember that sixty six pounds. If you’re going by boat, it is well to remember weight also. It is always better to be able to carry baggage, there may be no porter. You can ship extra baggage, of course, and it should be sent to the plane or ship at least twenty four-hours before your departure. Obtain labels for your baggage from ship or plane. For the boat, mark it “Wanted” or Hold”. Do not lose your claim checks and be sure that your baggage is with you on plane or ship. It is recommended that all baggage be insured.

Love, Kathy

Chapter One

This is my second life. We’re not supposed to live this long. We’re supposed to be dead by the time we’re thirty-eight. And that’s an old statistic. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still in my younger body because I missed something. I’m younger than they are/ now. By a long shot. Who are they? Five years is a world of difference. Add another five or six on there and there you are, snorting lines with someone who can’t knows none of the words to reelin in the years. But, the only reason you can sing is because your mother only played the oldies on the radio of the yellow ’79 Rabbit that your brother was so embarrassed to ride in he would hide in the backseat with a backpack over his head. When you turn around and your window is gone, all you have are years of windows.

My first word was sparrow. Now I have those birds tattooed on my back.

In the ’70s we had a house in Trinidad, California. It is worth noting that we had a house. Normally, we had tents and cars and nowhere. I lived in the forest, from the time I could walk. Redwood trees surrounded that home. They were a safe place. My older sister, Robyn, had died when she was a baby. Those trees were where fairies floated, in and around the damp, glistening branches. Glittering and ethereal. Robin floated with the fairies.

We had trees. We had stories. We had a lighthouse. We had a darkroom in our garage. We had damp black and white photos hanging on ropes. We had silver bromide. We had poppies and a Ford. We lived along the Eel River.

There is a kind of light that is transcendent an infinite amount of times because it is unique to the interpretation of every individual. A glowing light, the light of waking up outside, thirty minutes after dawn. Fluorescent lights over a cubicle or a grocery store aisle–all the lights become so indefinite they are impossible to explain. There is a moment when the light is translucent because we know it’s part of us.

This is now.