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Postcards

When I was very young, I thought I was happy. I had many toys, and a room to myself. I thought nothing of the absence of my father and of the nonchalant disregard my mother had for my welfare. But as as a grew older, and the extent of my knowledge grew, so did my feeling of detachment from the rest of the world.

There were two main characters in my life at this stage; my mother and my father. They made up my life and my family, but I never really knew either of them. They seemed as distant as the world outside my window to me.

My mother. She was never really a big part of my life. Always gone when I needed her, and when she was in the house, she payed little attention too me. She would flit around from here to there, talking heedlessly on the phone with her friends, and planing her next outing. When I was very small I would peer around the corners at her, much like a toddler will gape at a strangely beautiful animal in the zoo. She a foreign object in my life, despite the fact that she lived in the same house as me.

My father was the mystery in my life. I think my little mind could comprehend that he loved me, for when ever her came home I would run to him, and he would hug me with long missed affection while my mother stood watching in a veil of disapproving silence. He carried me into the house on his shoulders, and I felt inviting and warm for the first time in months. For a couple of days I would wake up in excitement, knowing my father was home at last, but it would never last long. He left on one of his month long trips to far away places on the other side of vast oceans.

During these long periods of silence, I would run to the door every morning to check the mail. Sifting past bills, magazines and pictures, I would occasionally find a postcard decorated with a foreign and tropical illustration. These came from my father, who knew I missed him more that anything. The pictures never ceased to amuse and fascinate me with their stories of people and worlds so different from my own. Every week he would send one to me telling me new things about the world and educating me in his own way. He seemed to read my mind and give me advice which always fit my life as perfectly as beach sand between my toes.

When I received these cards I would study them for the whole day, and then I would put them away in a special box in my room. This box had been brought back from China by my great great grandfather, who had traveled the world like my father, but unlike my father, he had done it for pleasure. My father had placed this box in my life, and I kept it and used it to hold the most precious memories in my life; the postcards.

At the end of each note he would always sign his name and draw a little picture of the place he was visiting, maybe a famous building such as St. Paul's Cathedral, or even a small portrait of a shop keeper in Beijing. He made each note special and entertaining to me, and I could look forward to every aspect of his travels. And, of course, I would never know where he would be next. It was really almost as exciting as going somewhere myself, those cards he send me. I traveled the world with him. I could smell the goulash in Hungary and taste the mochi in Japan. I was awed by the Parthenon and and Taj Mahal. I felt the mist on my skin and saw the blinding green grass of Scotland, and I heard the shouts of the merchants in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. All those memories were stashed away for safe keeping in my little blue box, and every week I would add one to the collection.

I soon grew up and found that I was sketched together by those little line drawings my father had done for me. I knew nothing of the world but the famous places my father had envisioned for me, but I was fascinated by geography. I longed to quench my thirst for the world through maps and pictures, labeled diagrams and captions. I was seven at this time and very persistent. Bound and determined to find more information about my world, I searched the whole house for information which would satisfy my hunger for the world much like a starving squirrel searches for acorns during the winter. I tottered down halls overflowing with plush carpets and lush oil paintings of my relatives, and hunted in rooms stuffed with golden ornaments and herds of snarling animal heads. Finally, pushing open a rusty hinged door with a creak, I entered the room which held all the answers to my questions. The room was on the smallish side and was carpeted in royal blue. It gave the feeling of gliding over an ocean when you walked on it. I knew no one had been in here for years because of the thick layer of dust which lay like a veil, concealing most of the small objects in the room. Light poured in through a huge window in the wall, and it reflected the many particles of dust hanging in the air and gave the room an oddly cosy feel. Pushed against the corner was a huge desk which looked like it had been used many times during its day. It was the reddish hue of cherry wood, and parts of it had been polished by familiar elbows until they shone with a warm glow. A big green armchair sat in front of the desk, and two more spotted the corners of the room. However, the biggest feature of the room was the books. Rows of bookshelves lined the sides of the room and split only to allow the door way in which I was standing. They rose in unison towards the ceiling, but while the books stopped rising, the wood did not, for it covered the domed ceiling with the fit of a glove.

The books themselves were magnificent and old. Red, blue, green, leather, parchment, even wood covered their bindings, and made them into an awesome collection. I had already taught myself to read very well, so books intrigued me more than the average seven year old. I tromped over to the case directly across from me and plopped myself down in front of it, sending up nimbus clouds from the carpet of dust. Pulling out the first book from the shelf, I opened in on my lap, and it covered me like a security blanket. I was surprised; this was not a book! Books were more stable; they were put together carefully and with love. Books had nice, clean writing in them. They covered pages with regularity, but they were never predictable. This was more like a folder filled with loose, age worn pages. These pages were covered with uneven, but beautifully crafted handwritting.





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