I search for words that when stitched together, as in an eye-catching tapestry, express something with texture and richness, and I hope, beauty. Fingers are crossed for a glimpse of a sparkling thread, or an unexpected color that draws a reader in. Sometimes I fail miserably. But on a good day, as with the surprise of a wonderful candid photo, I capture a spirit, and a heartbeat. Then I watch a story come alive.
Mid-July. Front of the home goods store poised for college retail. Bed-in-a-Bag. Towels. Desk organizers. Laundry sacks. Plastic baskets for bath items. Piled high. Waiting for moms and soon to be dorm residents to file by. In full acquisition mode.
Noted the bounty and continued another step, till smacked straight in the gut. Wallop of emotion. Sadness. Loss.
I loved going back to school. Shiny, new shoes and scratchy wool skirts worn in weather too warm. Stiff new books with a certain smell. Sharpened pencils, clean erasers. Neatly arranged in cigar box keepers. Rituals. Friends. The fresh start to a new school year. Pretending that none of it mattered.
But I dreaded when my child ran behind the cyclone fence, through the play yard into class. End of shiftless summer days. Nights that rolled into wee hours. Daylight traded for Standard time, followed by too soon morning. Good-bye late night Nintendo, and drive-through burgers in pajamas.
Dinner early, bed early, up early. Homework, afterschool sports, library, supplies, brown bag lunches. Counting down to winter’s dreary chill poured into shortened days. Life as regimen.
Tapping toes till 3:00PM. And Friday night.
I hustled to the car to sit, to reconcile my turmoil.
I'd felt summer rushing by. And life. Boy’s childhood blew right through me. Sudden autumn chill.
No pretending now. Summer packing up. Readying its leave. Fall squeezing through the cracks. Stirring winter scheming. Woven, woolen textures standing by.
I longed for spring surprise and summer warmth. To see Boy run and jump and laugh with childhood abandon. As once he did. When I was banned from kissing near the school. His cheeks were round and sweet. His hugs were bold.
Is this a mid-life crisis? Played out on the linens aisle. Spurred by neon trash cans? Postponed till quarter three when leaves start their sneaky accumulation. Soon to sprint toward ground.
I’ve been asked, when was it the best. Which age did I like most?
Boy’s tiny fists clenched in frustration, learning to roll over? Toddler walk or pre-school questions? After school hugs and snacks? Eye-rolling high school. College. Child lingering on the steps of adulthood? Searching for Easter eggs mailed to his out-of-state apartment.
All of it. The time I loved the most. Boy’s.
Thinking in car, seats hot from summer glare, sun shines brightest after September solstice. Low, better for catching rays.
And along with crunchy leaves, I aim to snag them all.
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." Albert Camus