Sunday, July 18, 2010


Most of the time I was the lone child in a house of old people, but a few times a year there were cousins. And aunts. And uncles. Once both uncles came to visit for a cook-out wearing white. All white - pants, shirts, maybe even their shoes. Both dressed all in white without having planned a color scheme. One was visiting from California, the other lived only half an hour away but far enough that visits were occasions. The two uncles grew up together in that same house. They were boys who occupied the attic where their parents rarely ventured, where decades later you could still trace evidence carved in the short walls: so-and-so loves so-and-so. They were boys who rode motorcycles with kittens tucked into their leather jackets, who teased their younger sister, my mother, far past the point of tears. They were boys who drove their father to loud anger and their mother to sweet exasperation (familiar). One of the uncles died a dozen years ago. I think of him when L scrounges through my jewellery box and holds up a certain necklace or a certain ring and asks "Can I have this?" and I say, "Not until I'm dead." My uncle made those, I'm going to keep them. I think of him when I make iced coffee. Which is almost every day in this soporific heat. That's a moment of him I remember: in his kitchen making iced coffee to bring with him on the drive back to the house we both grew up in, different lifetimes. His, I'm not sure, but I make mine overly sweet with lots of cold, white cream.

This has been the Week of Imperative Goodbyes. We have hugged friends leaving for extended vacations, relocating, and visiting relatives. One family, four dear sweet friends, are headed to New Zealand and Beijing before making their way to Oxford for the next year. Our parting was extremely tearful. Today we took T to camp for the next two weeks. I shouldn't be sad; he's juggling, clowning, dressing up and having the time of his life at Circus Camp. Still, I approach each farewell armed with a handful of tissues. These bundles eventually find their way into pockets of shirts, shorts and skirts. On Friday at the laundromat we were greeted with a surprise - a few overlooked tissues. M shook out the wet clothes and scattered the remains over the floor. He remarked that it somehow put him in the mood for singing a few carols. Indeed, this Faux Snow brought a smile to my face. Yet I find I am in dire need of a Jane Austen hero right now. Perhaps extending me the offer of a crisp white handkerchief; for these longings and certain turns of events have left me full of sadness and distress.

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