Friday, March 4, 2011

A Rainy Sail Down Memory Lane


I'm sailing down a County Road in a banged-up mini van, three kids behind me, three cups of juice. I've got all the trappings - diapers, hats, the miscellaneous toys that slink out to the car when no one's looking. From the very edge of my rear-view mirror I see a far-away look in the chocolate-almond eyes of my oldest. His cheek rests against the cool of the pane, he's quiet. He's moments away from a needle in his arm and he's done it hundreds of times before, but he's older now, and the older you are, the more you know. And sometimes, the more you know, the more things hurt.

It sounds like the beginning of a sad story, but look again.

We sail on, sail on. We sail past two houses that not long ago I pictured myself in. Both were plucked up by quicker, less-encumbered hands. And that's alright.

I slide a cd into the player and I am swept away.

I'm 15 years old, playing hide-and-seek. There's a boy I know and I want him to find me. I stay quiet, hunkered down low, because that's how the game is played, but I can't help myself from peeking my right eye around the edge of the door. I'm right here.


My hair is sweaty on my forehead and I look a fright, but the air is just so gauzy and the night feels so young. He meets my eye and for a moment I believe that I've been found.

And then I'm 16, and I'm just barely beginning to understand that life is stretched out in front of me like a liquid furl of satin ribbon. I think back to last Summer's sticky end and wish I could just go back there, where life was lived. Now, I spend my days stacking boxes on the slick surfaces of the scale. One for my side, two for yours. I tip over and start again.

I'm 17 and I'm about to leave home and it's harder to walk away from some people than others. I sprint ahead, away from the feeling of helplessness that managed to creep beneath my skin. I run like I'm nine years old with brand new shoes. But I can't stop looking over my shoulder as I run, because life won't ever be the same. I want to rush ahead and I want to stand stock-still in the middle of a many-armed hug. I want everything. But mostly, I want everything done right.


The van is still quiet. It seems even two-year olds understand the hallowed significance of the first rainy prelude to Spring.

We sail through a tunnel of apple trees, a naked orchard ripe with possibility, and my heart spills over and I cannot help but smile. And I know. I know what this means.

I flew back to my past on the flag of a quarter-note. I was there...and I was here. I grazed the curve of that full circle with the flat of my hand and felt for myself that there were no cracks, no breaks.

I was loved back then, when life was so hard, in a pretend sort of way.

I am loved right now, in my banged up mini van.

Consider this. Consider that the next time you feel your heart spill over in a moment so utterly ordinary, it's the Love of God filtering through like moonlight, illuminating, making a way for you. There's just no other option. You may not believe me, you may not feel it or even want to. But the next time it happens, just stretch out your hand. Dare it to come nearer.