My mother was never a sentimental person. I'd made this determination early on just based on how quickly she would discard things from our home. I'd come back from college every other semester and there'd be a fixture of the living room that was suddenly missing, an old appliance or a decoration. She called my bluff once when I replied snarkily to her that I would rather sell the old clothes and CDs and books in my room than toss them. By the following winter, they were all gone.

Throughout my youth, I learned how you can define yourself negatively based on your upbringing. Through my father, I would become underhanded about my emotions and wants. Through my cousin, I learned that I felt more like the person I was in inaction, as I for some reason would secretly lord over him his decisiveness. As if there was any inherent value in being more thoughtful in and of itself.

And through my mother, I had become more materialistic, in a way. By the time I moved out with you, I realized how much I had actually spurned this about her.

We had this taxidermied tortoise hanging on the living room wall that I oftentimes think about nowadays. Over the years it had lost its color just about everywhere on the body except the tip of the shell, right at the center, still an opalescent blue with fading streaks on its edges. I think about how many years it had taken for the colors to fade in just such a way. My mother threw it away shortly after I moved out.