Reminders from Home

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My mother sent me pictures of the snowstorm today. From 498 miles away, I open them, take in the white snow so thick and cold I can feel it prickle fresh goosebumps on my skin.

I am in the library when I open her email—feet up in a chair in front of me, leaned back, sweatshirt and sweatpants on. Comfortable, warm.

These pictures take me instantly to home: to the beige mailbox where my dog does his nightly bathroom rituals; to the curb where I sat one summer afternoon, sticking my bare toes in melted street tar; to the tree where my father built a carpeted platform and I hid after school, colored pencils and notebook paper tucked between red and yellow leaves.

In these pictures, the street is indistinguishable. A thin line of tire tracks mark an attempt at normalcy, but for my family, the world has simply stopped.

I have always been fascinated by snowstorms, how silent the air becomes, almost as if waiting for something to happen, waiting for that step to break the crystal surface, waiting for the bunny tracks and traces of wind to shift piles of snow like sand in the desert.

In these pictures, I can make out the number on our mailbox—1563. Funny, how simple numbers can become something we remember, carry with us, identify us in some way. I feel a pull towards home. A longing.

I miss the smells: chicken soup, cedar, cinnamon candle wax, my mother’s white flower perfume.

I miss my dog, finding a little nook in the corner of my wrinkled blankets and digging his nose down just deep enough so that I can hear every tired exhalation.

I miss my sister, her head bent over her sketchbook, long, straight hair falling in front of her face, leaving her partly in shadow.

I miss my father clearing his throat in the office room next to mine, the tone of his voice when he answers work phone calls, his navy blue sweatpants with the paint splotches.

I miss my mother, her footsteps back and forth between the laundry room, office, kitchen. The way I can hear her smile when she’s on the phone with our neighbor down the street.

In these pictures, the sky is blue or grey. Time stands still. Branches hang heavy with inches, suspended in air with frozen weight. Today, as I recline in my chair in the library, a soft drizzle hitting on the windowpanes across the aisle from me, I long for snowstorms. I long for those precious days when cars stay in garages, meals are scrounged up from leftovers, board games are dug up from closets, pajamas stay on, and for just a moment, life slows down.

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