Part 1: Mystery
Sometime in the Summer of 2008, I received a mysterious package in the mail.
It wasn't my birthday, but it was wrapped like a present. It was about 3 feet tall by 8 inches wide (probably was not cheap to mail), and it came from Woodland Hills, CA. The name listed on the address label was "Kuchta", a name which I had no context for, from a place I'd never heard of. The package contained two items. A handwritten note, which said something along the lines of "Was It Good For You?", and this painting:
And that's it. No context and absolutely no evidence that I could trace back to anyone I knew. Emily and I had recently moved into our apartment in NW Portland, and only a handful of people had our address. I distinctly remember double-checking to make sure that I hadn't put our new location up publicly on Facebook inadvertently. Because it was addressed to me personally, I ruled out accident, and because my address was a relative unknown, I ruled out a purely random act of "weirdness". The most baffling thing about it at the time was the apparent cost that it would require to mail it- I knew people who would play a trick like that on me, but it had to have cost $20 to ship, which pretty instantly rules out all of those people.
I used the tools I had to sleuth- I remember staring vacantly at a picture of the address on Google street view, looking for clues. My ex-girlfriend was the one person I knew living in Southern California, and (after some pondering) I reached out to her to see if she knew anything about it.
She did not.
I probably asked around a few likely suspects among my friends, feeling for leads but giving up pretty early when it was obvious they had no idea what I was talking about. Dejected, I wrote the address down in a notebook, and discarded the letter and wrapping paper.
The painting lived in the bathroom of our apartment for the next 8 months or so, and I couldn't bring myself to get rid of it when we moved to our house in January of 2009. Discarding the painting (creepy as it was) felt like giving up on a little mystery that in my heart I knew was worth solving. So it came with us.
I think it spent the first year or so propped up in our current bathroom, prior to a little remodel, and has lived in our basement since. In a stack of random art while Nathan occupied the basement bedroom, it graduated to leaning up against a wall in full view since we got married and kicked out the roomates. Every time I see it, an inspired confusion sets in. I don't like a joke that I'm not in on, especially one I know I would enjoy the punchline of, but I do love a puzzle. Time passes.