Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Dear Perec,

I am taking a quilting class at the local nursing home. The women are all so jolly and wear puffy sweaters and white sneakers and look like Mrs. Claus and I can tell that I make them uncomfortable. The room is the same room we sat in one morning in fifth grade when our teachers ganged up on us and as a team forced us to interact with terrifying elderly "folks" so we could ask them about their lives. We were in pairs and I was partnered up with a girl I hate and the old woman we were talking to hated her too, and so we bonded a little, subtly. She would recount thirty second memories about restaurants in Connecticut, where she was from, or from the war, I'm not sure which one. She ended most of these memories with something like, "but you wouldn't know you girls are so young, things were different then."
I used to have girl scout meetings in the same nursing home. I guess they like to have a youthful presence to make people feel bad about how old they are. This particular place was built like a maze and it was difficult to navigate my way to the meeting room. On a day I will never forget, I was just about there, but then reoriented in a much more frightening direction by an elderly women chasing after me screaming frantically "give me back my sweater! You took my sweater!" I didn't know it then, but this was all a foreshadowing of what was to come. Not only would I dedicate my life to recording the memories of the elderly, but I would spend years dressing like a grandma and wearing old lady sweaters and costume jewelry.
As for the sweater I was accused of stealing, I am probably wearing it now. If it isn't hers, likely a replica, the same flowers in the same place.

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