I was three or four, and Christmas was coming. Cards were sent, and received. I liked the way mail came then, with a mailman walking through the Wisconsin snow, house to house, dropping cards into a slot where they landed, in a pile, in the front hall closet. I could hear the thump and watch the mailman and often was the first to get the mail.
A card came from my great-Aunt’s house. I tore open the envelope and was confused, because she had sent us the same card we sent her. When I showed the card to my grandmother, I got a reprimand for tearing open the envelope, which could have been re-used: the card we sent had been returned to us, with the address written slightly wrong.
Another card came back, too, but someone else got the mail that day, so all I saw was a bit of the card as I peered over a shoulder during the confused discussion that followed: The card to my father had been returned, addressee moved, no forwarding address.
Years later, I would find the divorce papers that my mother filed the following year, her versus him, address unknown.