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I have been comfortable with the selective memories of my years of living in Europe during the 1970s. I had forgotten some things but that was okay. Isn’t that what remembering is all about? What I did store away was plenty to impress some and entertain others or to ignite a spark in them to remember their own adventures. It was enough for me. But then the shoebox came. There was a note attached: “You should do something with these!” An obligation was implied.

 

The Letters

 

Inside the box were all the letters, birthday, anniversary and holiday greetings and a few souvenirs that I had sent my mother from 1973 when I arrived in Dubrovnik to 1981 when I returned to the States from Spain. She had saved them all—even the envelopes. She was the archivist of my memories. Maybe she knew that if she had given them to me too early I would have burnt them along with the old journals and love letters. When my mother died in 2005, my sister, Nancy, packaged up all the letters and sent them to me. She had written the note but I could hear my mother in every word. I didn’t read the letters then or even take them out of the box. Instead, I put the lid back on and shoved it way under the bed to wait for me.

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