Sunday, July 30, 2017

In Remembrance of My Aunt Dolly: Int't Woman of Mystery and Adventure

My childhood coin collection started when Aunt Dolly came back from London handed me some coins with Queen Elizabeth II's face etched in the medal. I had never touch or seen anything but American money. What the hell is this? She told me that these were coins from England. My adolescent mind was blown: other money, other countries, other customs, otherness. In one instance I made a quantum leap into awareness: there is an entire planet of otherness. Something as simple as this blew my adolescent mind. I looked up London and the UK. On her next trip she brought me back coins with different languages on them and even some paper money. France, Italy, Germany, Greece. I began reading about these new worlds. I kept the coins in an old wooden jewelry box. When I was bored I would put some of the coins in my hand and -with eyes closed- try to guess the nation by the indentations around the edges and the feel of the different faces. I would memorize the different rectangular shapes of the paper money and then I imagined I was a blind person who could travel with through my supernatural ability of touch. I would pick up a German Mark and be in Berlin looking at the Wall, or hold a Franc in my hand in order to go to the Eiffel Tower. Aunt Dolly taught me that being Black wasn't synonymous with being provincial. I didn't have to be small. My life is limitless and as diverse as the currency of the world. I started putting the coins in different plastic bags, sorting them by country and amount. I keep the paper money at the bottom of the box. Whenever I felt constricted or confined, I could reach into my coin collection. When I went to Mexico for the first time I remembered Aunt Dolly and I wanted to bring her back some pesos, but I knew she already had them. When I was in London I set aside some British pounds in her honor. When my childhood body was stuck in Florida, she gave me my first 'mental passport' to explore. She was my travel companion in this life...and she will be there in the next. Rest in Peace, Aunt Dolly. I love love love you.

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