I’m looking at a brown envelope addressed to me from my mother in Cornwall.
I don’t know how many hundreds of times I have seen my address written in that hand.
She has always kept up with her correspondence, dating back to strict Edwardian parents.
For more than fifty years, she has sent me letters, from my first school trip to wherever I have journeyed.
And I have written back.
Those threads of care, as strong as linen, sewing me in, keeping me safe.
This envelope’s been used before, of course it has.
She likes reusing paper, thread, margarine containers.
Retrieved from its place beside her carefully wound-up string and a bottle of liquid gum, the aged paper is as soft as skin from long storage in her bureau.
No one uses manilla anymore; that government cheap alternative to bleached wood white.
It was made from the left-over hemp rope used on sailing ships, the beaten fibres showing through on the envelope’s surface.
The thing that isn’t the same, is the writing.
The capital ‘M’ of Mary, is written too carefully, as if she is leaning on my name. There is a tilt to the written lines, a hesitancy that doesn’t compute with the woman who rode her motorbike from London to Cornwall to buy a farm in 1950.
There’s no town name at all.
She probably hasn’t got that down in the address book.
It was too obvious for all her years of memory… unnecessary when I’ve lived in Aberdeen for more than thirty years.
So here it is then, just my name, the house, and the postcode hanging too low down on the envelope.
The address has taken on her stooped posture.
The misshapen letters, the folds of her writing arm.
No wonder the stamp queen looks at me sideways.