my apartment is littered with artifacts from my life - old photographs of people i don't remember or never knew, mementos and relics of a family history that i never cultivated. i stand amidst packed boxes, confused by an undecipherable mystery - i can't remember but i'm not sure whether i should throw everything out and forget, whether i should burn the past and start over again. these objects should have meaning. they should carry messages across the ages. instead, i find only pictures of strangers and heirlooms passed down by unknown ancestors. i am surrounded by the remnants of lives and their only bequest is a question i can never answer. i am a bastard, an orphan; these things represent the only ties i haven't cut to a family that only existed in my imagination. it's impossible to rebuild my life from these faded sepia photographs and construct a family from these ciphers - these people are cinders and ash, ghosts in a life that was never mine. i feel as though i have discovered the rosetta stone of heritage and must decide whether to decode its meaning or to rebury it beneath shifting sands. years ago, i felt like a mountain - permanent, immovable. now i feel wind-swept and crushed as fragments of lives i never knew drift across the sand.