"It was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things."
He was clutching his stuffed mouse, cradled in my arms, and I carried him through the hallways to his room. I turned the doorknob slowly until it clicked, and waited for another cry, but he was too tired now. I stood in the deep, eerie purple of twilight that shifted into blue, tinting the walls, the daisies on my table, and the dishes I was too tired to put away. It was silent and serene, waiting there in the almost-dark for nothing. The movement of night-blackened trees through the window caught my eye, and reminded me there were hours left in the day despite the moon's sheen. I'm not afraid of the dark anymore. I'm used to it.
When her auburn curls are tousled on a flowery pink pillow, and an airplane mobile barely flutters over his blonde head, I tell myself that this is all I need. I lay sideways on the bed and press play on an old black and white movie. (Right now, it's anything with Barbara Stanwyck.) Was it better then? If I had the right kind of hat to wear with my coat, and lipstick to match my high heels, would everything feel settled? Would it all wrap up neatly the way it tends to do in an hour and a half of romance, confusion, love letters, and resolution?
I keep wondering how I got here. In the span of a few years, life has changed many times over. I remember the girl I was five or ten years ago. She wasn't sure of herself, but she was sure of the world- a strange place to be. She hoped and trusted, and she believed in happy endings to the darkest stories. I laugh at her, pity her, and want to be her all over again. There may be a secret to a soft heart after heartache, but I haven't found it yet. It seems more knowledge only brings more to defend against. Sometimes at night, I think about the ones who have told me their secrets and sorrows, and wonder if they're still awake, too.
I've been exchanging letters with someone who is in his late eighties. He tells me about his childhood and early adulthood, and I marvel at it. There are twists and turns in his story so painful, I catch my breath as I read. So much tragedy for someone that young. But he tells me these things because they are a part of his story now, and, I think, he accepts them. And while I wonder if he would change them if he had the chance, I also wonder if he's thought of it that way. I'm still looking for an escape, and he's content. Among the sadness, he vividly remembers the good, the foolish, and the details of many events like they were yesterday.
I wonder what I will have to write about in another fifty years. If the good triumphs by then, and I can feel my heart beating beneath my hand and know that I have lived fully. Life is forever a back and forth, round and round motion. Much of the good is hard to get in focus. Sometimes it means holding it very close to see it well. And other times, it means standing at a distance, and surveying all I have.
There are gifts here, I remind myself, if I can breathe and wait long enough for the light to see them clearly.