Who had the biggest impact on the author in this story?
I of course have my opinions, but I want other points of view. Thanks!!
I am living back at home right now, with my mother, and my father, and my sister, and some cats, and a stray cat that I feed but that is not mine, and a dog, and a guinea pig. There used to be a sheep, but it was killed by a mountain lion. And there used to be peacocks, but my mother didn’t like how they dug up her garden, so my father caught them and let them go somewhere else, and now there is only one peahen left, and she seems very lonely.
I have been back home for exactly one month now. I was living in New York City – in Manhattan; in Soho. I was living with a boy – a photographer – a fashion photographer (or at least, an aspiring one.) And any reasonable person could have told me that having a relationship with a photographer is never a very good idea, because they spend their days taking pictures of pretty girls. But no reasonable person ever told me this. And so, I am now back at home.
My home is in Nevada County. Nevada County is in Northern California. Nevada County has a population of just over one hundred thousand people. It is where the gold rush began, over one hundred years ago. Nevada County is shaped like a gun. It is pointed at Nevada the state, because it stole the name, supposedly. You see – during the days of the gold rush, if someone were to trespass onto your claim, you could shoot them, no questions asked. But shooting a piece of land does no one any good, of course, so the miners must have concluded that the next best solution would be to shape their little piece of the world like a pistol.
And, given my surroundings, there is nothing particularly interesting to do. My friends have all moved away from here – to bigger and more exciting things. And so one night, I decided that I should start reading. Why not concern myself with the lives of others? You see – my mother has a rather large collection of books. They fill all the shelves in my house. They are stuffed in drawers. They are under her bed. There are some in boxes, stored in the basement, in the cold underground. And yet, most of them I would never care to read – they are mysteries or horror stories. But on one shelf, there sat about ten books that seemed very old, and out of place.
A few of those were old builder’s manuals, dated between 1930 and 40, which must have once belonged to family members who no longer exist. One was a book of fairy tales, with an inscription that read, “To Linda, love Mommy and Daddy.” (Linda is my mother, her parents are now divorced.) One was titled, “Elizabeth and Her German Garden,” which I am now convinced is why my mother spends all of her free time gardening.
But there was one more: an old, green, cloth covered hardback, titled, “The Secret Woman.” And in this book, like the book of fairy tales, there was an inscription. Except it was not from her mother. It was not from her father. It only said:
P.O. Box 52
And there was a little green sticker, too, which read, “Foyles, Books Bought, Charing Cross Rd. LONDON, WC2.” The book was printed in 1971.
My mother has never been to London. She has never be en out of the country. She certainly has never been to Norway. But I will never ask her who this person is, or was. And I will never know for sure.
I think they met somehow, when she was much younger, in college perhaps, long before she knew my father. MF Haugen must have had an exciting career, traveling around the world; perhaps he was an artist, or a journalist, or God forbid, a photographer. And while on one of many exciting journeys around the world, he must have stopped in a bookstore in London, and saw a book that reminded him of her. And he must have called her from the bookstore, and in his funny Norwegian accent, asked her what her address was. And he must have written his address on the inside, in case she ever wanted to send anything back. And he must have been married, which is why he included only a P.O. Box address. And he must have found the title of this book humorous (Norwegians must have a terrible sense of humor.) And he probably met girls wherever he traveled. And I wonder if that goddamn MF Haugen ever thought about his little Norwegian wife.
I wonder if she ever found out. Maybe he gave the wrong address to one of his girls, and she sent something she shouldn’t have to his home. I wonder if she ever told him to stop traveling, or if she ever left. Or maybe she just wanted him to stop traveling because she was lonely. How exciting would life be alone in Oslo? More exciting than a life in Nevada County?
Would she ever say to him, in her funny Norwegian accent, “MF Haugen, please don’t travel anymore. And please don’t send any more things to pretty girls”? Or would M
MF Haugen simply decide one day that he would no longer concern himself with girls he barely knew? Would they live the rest of their funny-accented, terribly humored, Norwegian lives together in Oslo? I bet that they did, somehow. And I bet that they were happy.
Of course, all of this I am basing around an address written in a very old book. But, until a reasonable person tells me otherwise, this is what I will continue to believe.