Pieces of Me by Alex Rohrberg

The Big Man In The Red Suit

I love that big man in his glorious red suit. The man I never see, or hear or find. I love that man because he brings me presents. The ways he always find out exactly what I want. If I asked for a new bike. Poof! There it was. Only sometimes did he fail me but he did a pretty good job. I do think he must be strong, my chimney is steep as a mountain, and I never could understand how that man went up and down that squeezing wall of bricks. I’m surprised he didn’t pop like a balloon. Like my heart did when I found out he wasn’t real.

I tried so many times to reach out to you but you never would answer. I tried to set up a camera overnight but my parents said the battery would run out, even though I thought it wouldn’t. I looked online for proof. That was what caused your downfall. I looked at videos of you appearing from thin air. You on the roof, with your reindeer. The bells jingling softly. You with your big red hat and black belt. Your rosy cheeks like tomatoes on your plump, round face. I saw you and your sleigh, jumping into the air like a missile. Taking off from someones house and moving on to the next. These videos looked fake but I wasn’t sure.

I looked Santa Tracker too. I had to see where Santa Claus was. Then, I realized he went from house to house to house to house… seven billion times! He brought gifts for THAT many kids. In one sleigh! With only eight reindeer? I couldn’t understand how he did it. I had to know! I would have look it up it. It just felt so wrong. I felt like I was gonna get arrested tomorrow by the police, wanting an explanation for why I had searched that. I knew as I considered typing, I might get in trouble but I was just too curious. Sitting on the edge of my chair like a criminal, I slowly typed into the search bar. The results, each in blue text, were pure disappointment. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t real after all these years. I thought I had most definitely ruined Christmas. I knew if I told my parents, I would have to be in some sort of trouble so I wouldn’t tell them, not forever.

My Name

My grandmother is an organized person. She reminds me of a hard of candy. Her crunchy shell precedes her soft, sweet inside. On the outside, I see as a woman not crushed by anything or anyone. Strong and to the point, she sets her focus to a goal and gets it done. On the inside, the chocolate is soft and gooey. She is caring and it’s easy to see the loving concern that stems out like a tree over a nest of a bird.

She is Kaalund, my middle name, a name that comes from my Danish roots. It’s not from a long lost relative of mine, like Hans Vilhelm Kaalund a poet from the 1800’s. It’s from my grandmother. Not from an ancient island or the land of the Aztecs. It’s from my grandmother. Only her. The lady filled with advice like a sage who lives deep in the forest.

Some have names that hold deeper meanings. My middle name Kaalund only holds the rough meaning of grove. This does not hold significance to me or who I am. The power of my name lies in my family. This name creates a stronger bond with my grandmother, since we are both spread out across the world like a baker decided to stretch out all the dough.

I feel pride in my name and a sense of belonging to where my grandmother lives and where my dad grew up. When it rains it always reminds me of her, it reminds me of my name. My name is the air in Denmark that is always wet from the plague of rain and my name is the bike trails that weave through the country and let you off at the ocean. My name is a connection. My grandmother is my name. My father is my name. And always, I am my name.

My Hair

My dad and I are very similar when it comes to hair. Our hair is soft like very fine, like pine needles. My dad and I both started young with blonde hair. As I got older, my hair went a dusty blonde to a tree bark brown. Just like my dad's once was.

My dad spent some time in the navy growing up. His hair was a common style for a sailor during his time. Not buzzed, but short and neat, like a freshly cut lawn. When it grows, my dad’s hair and mine both curl up like the edges of bow. I can imagine my dad in high school, trying to keep his hair neat and organized like his mother would have liked.

I can see him with messy hair like mine at the first light of the morning. The sun peeking through to illuminate the rat’s nest that flows from his head. His mother’s firm tone, telling him to fix up and get ready for school. His hair won’t cooperate to his mother's tone but he finds a way to fix up and heads for school. This is my dad. This is me. The legacy of fine, hard to control hair that refuses to go down from its state of bedhead without a good fight, like a good boxer.

I’m sure he remembers those times, so similar to mine. The days where it looks as if a moon landing took place on my head after a night of rest. And after buckets of water, it finally settles down. Without attention, it will probably become messy once more, again and again. The strands of hair will resist gravity and get pushed back up as they please, like grass in the wind.

My hair is like his, like Denmark, like a piece of how his life was. And this makes me feel that I carry around a piece of Denmark wherever I go, a very fine souvenir. A souvenir that connects me to the place I visit, but also the place I’m from.

Credits:

Created with images by jofaber - "Puzzling" • LoboStudioHamburg - "christmas atmosphere santa claus" • me5otron - "Santa Claus" • stevenm-s - "denmark copenhagen danish" • Skitterphoto - "barber chair salon"

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