Once upon a time there was a girl named Božena. She grew up in a small village where she loved to gather strawberries and play in the fields. As a teenager she was given special permission to visit the castle library, where she read romantic books and dreamed of a future filled with love and literature. She was known for her shiny dark hair and her dancing, and was crowned the Queen of the Dahlia Ball. Soon after, she got married, but she did not live happily ever after.
Somewhere in the attic I have letters from Bud, typed on a real typewriter and sent to me when I was in high school and college. The letters chronicle the adventures of his terrier and on occasion were written in the dog’s voice. The dog used to wait for his chance—when the man was sleeping or when he took up his guitar in a corner of a room with a bottle and some cigarettes, maybe the beginnings of a tune. Then the dog would leap to the typewriter and start tapping the keys with small white paws.
When I was seven years old, we moved from Cleveland to New York City. I remember when my parents announced the decision to me and my two sisters. We were eating dinner at the aluminum kitchen table of our suburban home. Their tone was excitingly conspiratorial. They told us not to tell anyone just yet, not until plans were settled. The aspects of the move that might have troubled me—leaving relatives, friends, my bedroom, and my school—paled in comparison to the fact that I had been entrusted with a secret.