My First Question

By: Andrew Sempere
July 6, 2010

I have a recurring dream in which a house that I have just moved into contains a hidden panel, a door or passage that leads me to a room full of ephemera. The key element of this dream is a large collection of stuff which has been hidden from view for ages, locked away in mid-use, forgotten completely and is now mine to catalog and explore.

A lifelong history of exploring the underground and the occult then, but always a lingering discomfort with the attendant notion of transgression. Not because of a fear of authority, but because of a peculiar fact that the presence of authority implies: To transgress, to trespass, implies that the space you are exploring is guarded, owned, and worst of all, fully known and understood.

The spaces that I wish to explore are none of these things. I want the forgotten, the lost, the secret that has no keeper. I want the story that no one remembers, the item that defies explanation, the room with no discernible purpose. I crave the interstitial thought, the letter that fell through the cracks.

Like this one I once found in the basement of my house:

Postmarked Somerville MA 4PM Dec 16, 1956

Postmarked Washington D.C. ??m Mar 8, 196?

RETURNED TO SENDER

Address and return illegible.

Dear Hay:

A friend of yours and his wife are at Dea__ness Now – Dr. and Mrs. Gangan. He told me you had been ill and I was so sorry to hear this. I do hope you are fully recovered and well. Do take it easy!

I was so delighted to find someone who actually knew you. Naturally, my first question whenever I meet anyone from So. America is always “Do you know Dr. Hayer” and while everyone answers “I’ve heard of him” or “a friend of a friend knows him”, Dr Gangen was the first one to say “_____ him personally!” So I got some first hand information!

I understand you have a fine son and I’m so happy for you. I know you must be very content. Sometime when you have a spare minute drop me a note and tell me about yourself + your family. You know I’m always interested. My best to you and your family for the Next Year ________

Best wishes,

Nan M_____

A letter that could not have been more perfectly designed for my imagination. All of the possible identifying marks have been obliterated, except for the 10 year gap between postmarks. Where has this letter been? Where is Dr. Hayer, and what sort of Doctor was he? I don’t really want to know, but Nan if you’re reading this, I have it. Dr Hayer never wrote you back because he never heard from you. I hope your life was a happy one, and 1957 treated you well.

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