Thursday, July 16, 2009:

The year transpires much the same, one distraction to the next.

By day, I split myself in two—half domesticated mom, half professional businesswoman—accomplishing neither whole-heartedly. Perpetually fatigued and scattered. Between ABC’s and client brochures, I dapple in poetry and journaling. Petty narcissistic drivel; who needs critics.

By night, I burn. Every dream a new interpretation of the same theme; flames, searing heat, hot ash. Tired of scrubbing metaphysical black soot from white sheets, I invest in a luxurious charcoal-grey silk bed set, much to my husband’s dismay at the sudden splurge. I defy analysis.

On a bright summer afternoon, I take my daughter outside to chase the sunlight. We walk to the mailbox and I extract from it a single letter, the lack of usual flyers and coupons amplifying its uniqueness.

“Mine, Mommy?” my daughter asks, always eager for any gifts the mailbox may bestow upon her especially.

“No, honey, it’s for Mommy…” I reply absently as I stare down at a familiar, yet unexpected airmail envelope trimmed in yellow-and-green stripes and smattered with stamps.

“Why, Mommy?” my daughter asks as she pulls my hand downward. “Me see.”

“It’s from Brazil, I think,” I observe aloud as I relent to her tugging and I squat down to show her the brightly coloured stamps with “Brasil” down the side and typical airmail trim. “These are Brazil’s colours.”

She grabs the envelope and turns it over. “Birdie!” she exclaims, pointing to another sticker—a return address sticker with a bird illustration and red border. I read the address twice: “52 College Street, Kitchener, ON N2H 5A1”. The top of the sticker has been cut off as well as a small square from between the “52” and “College”.

“It’s…it’s a return address sticker,” I reply faintly. I know that address; I lived in an apartment there over fifteen years ago as a university student. How did an envelope sent from Brazil, addressed to me, come to have a return address sticker on the back from a place I lived almost two decades ago?

I resist opening the envelope until we have returned to our backyard and my daughter plays contentedly. Perched on a garden rock, I carefully split apart the top seam, extract a thin sheet of paper, and open it to reveal two short lines written in elegantly formed blue cursive:

Step out of your prison; it is self-imposed. Leave it to burn behind you, igniting the fires of your imagination and life will follow.