De Librije

Consider this a postcard from a town whose name I can’t pronounce. Fifty shades of grey is the weather here, not just an idea book for days like this. And I’ve translated so many words on my phone that I risk exceeding my roaming data plan on the vowels alone.

Welkom in Nederland. I’m in Zwolle.

I arrived yesterday ’round midnight, the only one who got off the train at this station. The only one walking these cold, foggy streets at that hour. Now it’s lunch time and I’m biting my tongue because I want to make a joke about purple drank, but nobody in this country thinks I am funny. So I’ll just sip this fermented cabbage juice in silence. It’s the first serving at a restaurant called De Librije. Continue reading

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Oxheart

“They spell puddin’ with a ‘G’ here, hon.”

I throw on a Texas twang neither of us have while I joke with my sister. It’s the first time we’ve had dinner alone in five years, and we’ve driven three and a half hours to get here.

We decide that in our home state, eliding that letter is required when speaking of corn puddin(g), but optional when one merely writes about it. Now before I do precisely that, some background is required…
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Red Medicine

My memory sucks.

There are gaps spanning several years. The most complex experiences survive only as basic sensory reactions — smells and sounds, especially. Etched in my nostrils even now is the aroma of burning leaves.

Before sparks turned to flames, I would splash through piles taller than I was, burying pine cones and needles. Nature’s firecrackers fell from the only kind of tree I knew growing up in east Texas. I don’t know how old I was, but I can still hear that sound. Continue reading

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