When I was a child there was a large purple faded postcard album that lived at the bottom of the wardrobe. It belonged to the woman who raised me. Occasionally as a reward, I’d be allowed to sit with it on my lap and to turn its heavy pages. Beneath its gold embossed cloth cover were sepia toned stories in word and picture about a family who left Scotland in the 1800s and travelled by sea to New Zealand. The handwritten script on the back of each postcard was hard to decipher – long sloping pen strokes, swirls and loops that connected people from one land to another, from a dream to a place of hope, and from one century over the crest of time to a new one. I was a curious, but silenced child. What was the relationship between these people, the writer and the recipient? What drove or inspired the writer to cross mountains and deserts and forests and vast seas to reach this land? And did either writer or reader envisage me, or someone like me, from another century, wondering about them?
I watched that album burn one day on a fire set by the man who raised me. Its cover buckled and curled in the heat generated by the mound of relics he’d piled up in the middle of our vegetable garden. Her coats, her shoes, her books, her papers. All those things that once held the scent of his wife, my mother, burning in an attempt to purge himself of his grief and loss. All gone, except me, the fourteen year old witness to his pain.
My postcards are not sepia toned, unless I alter my settings … a fire can’t destroy them, as they inhabit the cloud, and need only energy and vibration to make their journey half way around the world and back in a split second, if that’s what I want. Much have changed, but what it is to be human has not. What it is to arrive in a new place, a new city, an unexplored beach, to step from the train, or bus or plane and smell the scent of a foreign land, always produces some oscillation between a sense of excitement and trepidation…. always stirs the curiosity of the inner child.
Postcards from my wardrobe ….