We traveled yesterday. Down concourses, up ramps, down aisles. Moving from the sunny western coast to the snowy western mountains. With children who can walk on their own now, with children who can wheel their suitcases over the terrifying initial step of an escalator and order their own snacks from the beverage carts, traveling is quite a bit easier. It's almost breezy really. This time around I didn't have a newborn ready to wail her discomfort into the anti-children ears of passengers. I didn't have a two-year old strapped to my chest, her big head blocking my view of the ticket agent. But I did have a huge duffel bag as a "carry-on", one that weighed more than three two-year olds put together, one that clinked and rattled with audible fragility.
It's funny really. I see now how metaphor was born. How sometimes the obviousness of the little things mirroring the bigger things slams you in the face and demands to be recognized, put into word and symbol.
That bag, the one I heaved and ho-ed and had to coddle like a baby made of crystal, was my father's bag. He slipped it out of his tidy garage for me to use. Layer One. Then I stuffed it with pyrex from my grandmother. Little yellow bowls, stacking mixing bowls of aqua and tomato-red, a casserole dish, also yellow, with a lid. If a person could be represented with objects these would be my grandma. These bowls and the salt and pepper shakers that now sit on my sister's table. Layer Two. In order to bring them all home in one piece I packed them in clothes, hand me downs from the cousins that now fit Echo. Layer Three.
So there I was, my heart filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of all the people I love, of the town I love, making my way away from them, while lugging a giant bag full of them at the same time. I was willing to leave, especially with thoughts of being together again -more and soon- soothing my wounds, but I was also going to actually bring them along. I clinked and clanked and huffed and puffed. I checked the health status of the contents like a mother hen. I was the passenger with the odd bag that made odd sounds.
We made it. This morning I made oatmeal and gave it to my daughter in a little yellow bowl that my grandma received in 1948, from her aunt on her wedding day. Aaaah.
But if I had to tell you how I am I wouldn't be able to answer.
I feel like I am an assortment of bright, loose threads. I could gather any three and braid them into a tapestry of woe or longing. I could gather another three and finger them into a round carpet of fulfilled. I could slip three others into a necklace of love. But what do they make all together? I really don't know.
The threads, all a-jumble:
- picking up Henry from our friend's after a long week without him
- my dad in levis and sperry topsiders
- our chickens and their bevy of brown eggs
- my baby with a loose tooth
- and pierced ears
- and choosing papa as her falling-asleep companion
- my mom and stepdad west coast swinging in the living room
- seagulls flying among redwoods
- a river swelling with high-tide and seaweed islands
- stopping at a favorite restaurant on the way home from the airport to find our favorite friends had the same idea
- Nathan hugging and kissing and smiling
- a sister planning to move back to Santa Cruz, a sister designing and anticipating
- a stepmom feeding squirrels and laughing and sparkling
- kids playing in the driveway in twilight in barefeet
- pushing my girls down the backstreets of my childhood, one on the bike seat and one on the bike rack
- luxuriating in the company of friends from childhood while our kids enjoy each other's company and their own childhood
- big grey cat in my lap
- my grandma in a striped t-shirt
Perhaps you can weave your own image, and hang it for me.