>Photograph 01

>I spent the coldest summer of my life in Mongolia. I’m still haunted by it. In winter, I curl up in my blankets and memories of shivering in my jacket, in a sleeping bag, rise to my tongue. Of smoke filled gers weakly lit by the blue light that clings to the sky after the sun had set.

I remember Hishge.

I met Hishge in UB, but she was from the countryside. Her heart was nomadic.

We were in the water logged fields of Arkhangai, where walking across the ground was like walking across a floating bridge with matted grass being the only thing keeping you from the mud. The ground moved like a sheet as you stepped. We were visiting a family. They had us in their home, and fed us aerig, talking to me in my broken Mongolian, with the help of a girl whose name meant boy, who spoke Japanese, but no English.

Outside a stallion was being kept separate from the other horses. He was jumping and running, making noises like a watch dog tied to a chain. The horse was tied to a line. He broke it and began to run.

Without pause, Hishge dropped her bowl of aerig. She was a line of green, an unnatural emerald streak in her del. Another horse was standing around nearby and she yelled at it as she ran. It began to move forward. Like watching a messenger taking a moving start as they climbed on their bike, she mounted the moving horse. There was the grace of a gymnast being a vault routine. An aerialist climbing up their silks. I watched as she chased down the stallion and herded him back to the home of these strangers. The girl named boy cleaned up the spilled drink.

I’ll never forget the sight of Hishge running alongstride a horse and climbing on it with a familiarity I dream of having with anything. It remains the most beautiful thing I have seen a person do. She lived in the city and she was studying psychology. She was the eldest child. She was doing what she had to for her family. But watching her, I finally understood that there are things some people are meant to do.

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>Snapshot 03

>It’s three AM. It’s three AM and rather than sleeping I am cleaning. I am cleaning my apartment at three AM. I pick up a box, the empty husk that remains of a box from my parents. The maple syrup they sent sits in the fridge, doled out in desperate attempts at something–I’m not quite sure what. The bubbles on a shelf. The external hard drive in use to the point that it is no longer new. There’s a book in it. I didn’t open the book before. I don’t know why.

I take the book out and unwrap it slowly. I’m in no rush. Dad had made noises about a first edition something or another, but I didn’t really think about it. There’s a clear plastic slip cover over the book. The oil and lines in my hands grip it and slide with forced difficulty.

On the inside cover is a small book plate. From the Library of Herbert Boyce Satcher. I wonder who he is and why he bought this book. Why someone sold it later. I used to hate book plates, but now I see them as a point of connection. I like knowing that there was this man who read this book. Who owned this book.

Unintentionally, I smell it. Automatically, I lean my cheek against the page and inhale. My cheek fades into my mouth and my nose. It’s an intimate gesture, smelling something as you feel it. Letting, for a moment, your experience of life to focus on a single object. It smells like home.