Those are the initials on the license plate of my Aunt’s golden BMW convertible. It’s also the name of the car. Pronounced “sem”. The initials actually stand for Catherine Ellen Money. That’s my Aunt, or Auntie C as the cousins like to call her.

Auntie C is petite and porcelain-skinned with poker-straight hair the golden red color of an LA sunset. She is the only one I know who can wear her fringe of bangs as naturally as if she were born with them. She pulls off the kind of outfits Anthropologie features in their catalogue – bold prints, saturated colors, delicate knits, cloche hats. The adjective that comes to mind when I think of her is “sprightly”


Despite the number of stamps in my passport, my favorite place in the world really is the South Pasadena bungalow where she, my uncle, and my cousin live. It is a deeply initmate place adorned with family photos, bird feathers collected from walks, fresh flowers, and whimsical decorative touches. An arbor covered with fuschia flowers creates a canopy of foliage in spring and summer to welcome you to the backyard garden festooned with twinkly lights, the lawn littered with grapefruits and oranges from nearby trees. The doors and windows are usually kept open and the southern California breeze drifts in and out with the promise of sunshine and care-free days.



Auntie C is my soulmate. She and I share a birthday – January 14. It even amazes me that she was born in ’58 and I in ’85. We are both Capricorns; headstrong and willful but also deeply emotional and attuned to the spirits and needs of those around us. Every year I eagerly anticipate the box that will come in the mail from California for my birthday. This year, within the cardboard, there was a pristine white box cushioned by layers and layers of deep pink and red tissue paper. Inside were three objects that might have seemed random to another person, but to me they make perfect sense. A light switch plate, a drawer pull, and a small vase.

This year I have been contemplating moving to my own space and without having told her, Auntie C picked out three things that she felt I could use to help make a new place my own. Small touches similar to those she has used to make her home unique. Three simple, yet perfect things to remind me of the beauty all around. The light switch plate looks as if it has a pattern of rays bursting forth, the drawer pull reads “favorite things to keep forever” – reminding me to cherish what I hold most dear, and the vase is shaped to look like a bunch of radishes which my cousin said made her think of me in my garden.

Auntie C is my soulmate because she just knows me.


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