For this anniversary issue we’ve decided to dig into our own hippocampus—where those fond memories are stored—and dig out some gems from the archives.
In 1938 I was five years old and I could already feel my childhood slipping away. Mutti first noticed my developing maturity one day when a loud demanding knock frightened her. Mutti’s face tightened and she pursed her lips. The Victorian pallor, in which she prided herself, seemed especially white. We both looked at the door as if awaiting a miracle.
The boxes are sitting on my Seattle steps, bright white against the dark, mildew-stained stairs. I heft them up; they’re surprisingly heavy. I elbow my way inside the front door and drop them on the table with a thump. The red and blue lettering reveals nothing about what’s inside, though I have my suspicions.
When I open the envelope containing a notice from the Diocese of Oakland that my EX of several years has petitioned for a Declaration of Invalidity, my first reaction is to laugh and toss the paperwork into the recycling bin. But the words toll like solemn bells throughout the day. Ecclesitasticum, Ajudication, Decree of Constitution. In the grip of the language as I had been some twenty years ago when I made the mistake of converting to Catholicism, I retrieve the paperwork.