“I wish we could fast forward through the whole year,” Bug says. We are in bed and have just finished three books and our first song.
“Yeah? How would that work?”
“We would go all the way through fall, past winter.” He floats his hand through the air above our faces. “And come out after springtime.”
“We could fast forward to a vacation,” he says. “A summer vacation.”
How many of us long for the same thing? I smile and touch his palm suspended up there. “But then you might miss a lot of the good stuff.”
“Like what good stuff?”
“Like all the cool things you get to learn in school,” I say. “How you are just now starting to learn to read. And seeing your friends in class. And playing at recess.” I turn and slip my arm around his middle. “And all the cuddling you’d miss. Think about that.”
“But we could come back all the way around to the beginning,” he explains.
“And do kindergarten all over again?”
“Mmm hmm,” he murmurs. He is fading. “Some kids do it twice.”
I brush my lips over his cheek and begin the next song.
The wind is in from Africa
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. . .
As I walk through the night with the dog over the same quiet neighborhood streets, I notice my mind has retreated again. I have slipped back to the Colorado mountainside or into our Lake George cottage or alongside the San Andreas fault with Bug in my belly. The nostalgia is an open wound. It bites and aches. I miss those trees so much. The dry summer sage. The creek snaking right outside our door. I miss watching Tee drape the house in white twinkle lights as soon as the nights began to lengthen. He would split the logs himself, stack them in the garage and carry up just enough to last through bedtime. Bug always wanted to play with the matches and help bring the fire to life, and Tee always had the patience to let him. I miss walking back through the moonless pitch on those crisp winter evenings towards that glimmering beacon haloed in woodsmoke.
I had no concept of the perfect loveliness of everything right in my hands.
Then I remind my hands to unclench. I whisper to my mind, beckoning it back to me.
You know it sure is hard to leave you, Carey,
but it’s really not my home.
The wound is not real. It is only a series of thoughts. I call myself in from those faraway wilds, giving myself the gentle nudge to attend to this here and now, this quiet stroll through a neighborhood with my lop-eared pooch who stops every 36 inches to snuffle in the leaves.
The time will come when this is the sweetest memory. It might be ten years or it might be tomorrow, but it will come. I will call up this night, the bones of these bare trees, this sleeping boy breathing in the mist and leftover lullabies, and I will ache for the perfect loveliness of this.
Let’s have another round for the bright red devil
Who keeps me in this tourist town
There is no rush and nothing to be gained from hurtling past the winter and right out the other end of spring. Do-overs are not allowed in this game. Getting to the promised land faster means you have only failed to inhabit your footsteps as you are taking them. As ill-fitting, bothersome, and wrong as this chapter may be, this right here is the story of you being written.
But let’s not talk about fare-the-wells now,
The night is a starry dome
And they’re playing that scratchy rock and roll
Beneath the mantle of the moon.
The end of this act is already coming. Whether you recognize it or not, whether you hurtle yourself towards it or fight it every step of the way, you are already on your way to the next unrecognizable incarnation. Someday soon, this will be the hard candy you suck until your teeth hurt. This will be the nugget you cannot spit out. You might as well pause long enough now to place your lips on whatever is here before you. Foul, sweet, and anything in between. It does not matter. It is yours. Take a good, long taste.
I say, oh, you’re a mean old daddy,
but I like you.
Thanks and apologies to Joni Mitchell for “Carey” from the glimmering winter night of an album, Blue.