i’m walking, trying to put myself on the beach because that’s where i want to be. but where i am, instead, is on a long flight of stairs with splintered wood. my hand finds the railing rough to touch, i slowly step one foot in front of another. it’s meditative. up up up the flight of stairs for what feels like eternity.
my knees begin to hurt from the steep climb as i think about what the doorknob might feel like. when suddenly i’m standing on the deck. i recognize it: the seats built in around the edges. we all sat together here for a family photo taken back in the seventies. the deck is as large as i remember it.
i find the door, push it open, and i’m transported back to Lake Tahoe.
“hello!” i call out. there’s an echo in this empty space. “is anyone here?” i’m supposed to meet someone here. someone could mean anyone, really. my eyes adjust to the emptiness and i notice her standing there. in her smallness, she stands next to the black woodstove in the middle of the great room.
“but you’re just a kid” i say. stammering at my own self as a three year old. my hair was blonde then, and tangled.
“so are you” she says, more grown up than her size reveals.
“well, i have a lot of questions. i need some advice. on pretty much every aspect of my life.” i begin in business-like fashion as i do these days with subjects of great importance. i explain it all, eye to eye with the me that is half my height. she wears my favorite tank top and tube socks. i explain the details and the unmarked paths and the questions. i have total and complete faith in her.
when the words leave my lips, she stares up at me with my own hazel eyes. i see so much of myself in her. so much of my son. it makes me kinder on me, the woman kneeling before this child i was.
“you love him” it’s a statement. a truth.
“yes. so very very much” she is just like he is. my eyes fill with tears at this. this knowledge shared between us. the unspoken bond that comes with birth. the mother who warned her against touching the woodstove, the one she reached her hand to anyway. the mother that held her crying all night from the burn that wouldn’t go away. knowing the strength of my love for my own child. knowing this child, me, her mother, my mother loves her equally as much. in that silence of memory, i found my answer.
“then do what makes you happy” she grinned.
i close my eyes to this and sigh. the non-answer answer to my thousands of questions.