I dreamed my Norwegian grandmother had left me a manual typewriter. Two typewriters, actually. One of them was so old you had to place the letters that you wanted to type into the machinery that pressed into the paper. The other one was black, with silver keys. She said, “It’s a Price-Waterman,” or perhaps it was a “Warner.” Whatever. The name was important, but I have forgotten it. Maybe “Smith and Weston.” But that would make it both a writing instrument and a gun, something to shoot with, a weapon. I like to type. I had messy handwriting as a child. But I find I learn things about myself when I set pen to paper. The physicality of the act, the impression into the soft page, the wax, the earth, is known to me as an ancient craft, a way of linking to deeper layers of the brain, regions shaped not just by experience but also genetics.
I was careening down a steep hill on my bike, screaming with joy. At the bottom, where the light was, I swerved widely right just as the traffic was starting across the intersection. A cop car. I pedaled viciously up the hill and got away.
There is an art happening. It is called “name the room.” The one with the most imaginative name will get to create the room. I stop my bike and pedal back to where the slips of paper are being handed out by a man and a woman in the street. I know. Mine will be called, “Zenobia, Queen of the Night.” I worry I am riffing off Hawthorne.
At other times I can hardly move the bike forward because my knees were too close to my face. The bike had a banana seat and was too small. I took it home to change the seat but couldn’t find a lock to keep it safe while I searched.
I am so happy I could weep. My mothers and my grandmothers are back with me briefly after so long a mourning for them.
It’s a $1500 bike, I say, exasperated, to my mother. No way are we leaving it out here on the street without a lock. I am going to spend this morning with her because I am so happy to see her again. But I am also conscious of my time running short. I need to get off, alone, to the beach on the east side of town, the one with the long, white strips of sand, where the wind blows.
I am asking Solveig, my mother’s mother, to tell me the names of the Norwegian people I don’t recognize in the old photo album. While we are turning the pages, the typewriters appear, covered carefully with a cloth, in the center of the book, perfectly preserved. She had saved them for me.