11:00 pm, christmas eve
i am upstairs in my bedroom at my parents' house. everyone else is downstairs, having already changed out of their clothes and into their pajamas. i am the last one still dressed, as it was my year to put the silver star on top of the tree - a process which gets captured on film, for posterity, each and every year. the wooden stairs creak as usual on my way up, and i snap on the bedside lamp. standing in the center of the room, a small pool of light - i go to take off my earrings.
and then i stop.
i turn and sit, very slowly, on the edge of the bed. i look out the window, ink black and reflective of the room. for some reason, i look at my wrist, my grandmother's bracelet that hangs there - i unclasp it, lower it into my palm. my fingers close around the chain, press against the gold oval that reads
40 East 61st St.
i sit. and breathe. and the grandfather clock downstairs patiently chimes out the time.
11:00 am, new year's day
i sit at the wooden dining table, the remnants of breakfast cooling on the kitchen island behind me: cinnamon rolls, hash browns, bacon and sausage. coffee, orange juice, tea. on the tv in the living room is a muted football game, feet propped up on couches.
brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins, scattered about.
i have an eighteen-month old in my lap, and she is creating her own surreal masterpiece with a blank sheet of paper and a 24-count box of crayons. jason oversees an impromtu countertop bowling session with two of the kids. lazy, easy conversation. second helpings.
some connections are faint but strong - a spider web stretched across the back of your mind. others become clearer every day, like a radio station emerging through the static as you turn the dial. some are monet - some are pollock - some you can only see in outline through the half-light. but if they are important, no matter their current form, they are always, always there.
and they are the whole point.