On the route to school there is a lady. She's a crossing guard. I don't know anything about her. We never interact except to wave hellos as I drive or bike past her post. But I see her A LOT, in part because her job is to be in that spot and I pass by a few times a day, but also because even when I pass by that intersection in the middle of the day she's there. She stays there all day.
She arrives in the morning, rain, snow or shine and holds up her stop sign for children and parents, then when the pedestrian traffic has died down she sits in her car. All. Day. At 3pm she's back at her spot. She knits, she does crosswords, she reads.
I've noticed my estimation of this stranger's life varies greatly day to day. Sometimes I feel sad that she's alone all day at an intersection, other times I envy her the quiet and solitude. I've been puzzled by my diverse responses and then recently it hit me. Her life is seen through my life. Everyone's life is seen through everyone else's life. The personal lens is unavoidable. It's also why people piss us off some days and delight us others. It's always all about us. All about me.
On the mornings when Xi and Echo are arguing over who gets to check and see if the dogs at a house on our route are visible in the window or not, I don't feel sorry for the crossing guard. I kid you not, my girls fight over who gets to say "Brown puppy in the window!". At those times crossing guard lady's silent vehicle and crossword look really fucking good.
On the afternoons when I feel the ache of missing my family, when that old wound opens and pulses with longing, I feel so sad about the crossing guard, so sad that she too must not have her mom or dad or sister nearby to visit during her break. Because otherwise she would, at least through the lens of my life she would.
When money is tight I feel comraderie with the crossing guard. On those days I assume she is budgeting her money and the long trip across town to her apartment is out of the question. When the lilacs are blooming and a warm breeze hits my face I'm certain that this lady, this crossing guard has the most serene and peaceful life of anyone on the planet. A good book, a purpose, and time.
I'm all over the place about this lady.
To be honest I am all over the place in general these days, at turns so sure of myself and place and then so unsure. So uncertain. I took a little break from this blog to think things over. Am I a blogger? Am I a parenting consultant? Am I an artist? Am I a writer? And do I have to choose just one in order to provide for my family? And shouldn't I know this by now? It's been giving me grief because I also want to be a good parent and a homeschool teacher and have a clean house. You can see the struggle.
And I'm not going to pretend that Echo's sixth birthday doesn't have anything to do with it. She is the blood of my blood and her milestones are my own. Her life has been six years long. Six years! Somehow the fact that it's happening, this time passing thing, to someone that I am looking at almost every minute of the day means I can't deny it actually is ocurring. Six years really did pass.
And that means they have passed in my life too.
Turning six, that's not a baby anymore. It makes me look at my life and my choices and tilt my head. It also makes me tender. Echo. She's just perfect. She is everything I would wish for a family. She is everything I wish for myself. It's a strange mix of hardly being able to believe this incredible being exists and the sense that of course she exists, she is the very air I breathe, the molecules that float in and out and dance and shimmer with my every inhalation. And now she's six. Her cheeks are slimmer. Her words are bigger and complicated. Her smell is different. She has friends and ideas and opinions. She was a speck and now she is this... this.
It makes me want to cry with the joy and wonder of it all. And the pain too.