It was Christmas, 2015. The windows of the den were lathered in a light frost, and the sunlight was so bright it polished the snow. The odd combination of summer sunlight with winter whiteness left my baby cousins a bit puzzled, and swept a strange glare into the room, paling the faces of my aunts and uncles and outlining my sister’s hair in gold, as if she had a luminosity all her own. We were dwindling down to the last of the presents, and I found my eyelids drooping with the weight of Christmas appetizers- spinach balls, sausage bread, mozzarella cheese glazed with olive oil. A mid-day nap was sweeping over me, burning like a stove in my belly.
Uncle John always moves as if he’s in a terrible rush. He jerks out presents abruptly but deliberately, his hair ruffled and swaying. But with my gift, this time, he quiets his frazzled motions. He walks over to me like a twelve-year-old gingerly transferring his mother’s vase from one table to another, careful not to trip over the edge of the rug or the dog laying, stomach-down, on the floor. He has the goofy grin on his face, the same one he has when he knows what happens next in the movie, while my sisters and I sit quivering, wondering where Freddie Krueger will appear next. He places a heavy black box on my lap, unwrapped. It has two metal stripes along the edges, a slightly rusty hinge, a handle. As I open it, I keep asking what it is, not expecting an answer. He looms over me, claiming a front-row-seat for my reaction. I press down on two clips and the box pops open, revealing a black and cream Smith-Corona typewriter. I look up, giddy, to see my wild-haired uncle giggling at his unbeatable gift.
Now I see typewriters, brightly colored and happy, in window displays. They coddle redesigned Jane Austen novels and stationary sets. With this scene comes a sense of beauty and uselessness, a typewriter used solely to glimmer in the background, an old thing with memories of an older time. Something to add to your aesthetic, coffee table books shimmering next to it, their bindings uncracked, pages unstained.
And yet mine remains a tool. A rather difficult one to master, dirtied by pizza-grease on my fingertips or pools of tea spilling into its keys. I hope that my leftovers keep it alive, give it the character it needs to breathe life into my own. It’s an old friend, raggedy from broken promises, calls left unanswered, a fight or two in high school. But still it waits, ever-welcoming, happy to catch up over coffee. It keeps your embarrassments tucked away in its little body, only brought out for a joke or two before they are pocketed again. It thanks you for the Christmas cards. It reminds you of dreams you pursued so desperately that they lie, weary and forgotten, beneath your bedframe. It leaves you feeling warm and pained with a single wave goodbye.
Until next time, it hollers. You clamber out the door. Lamplights are glowing now, the street empty, your mind hollow.