Sometimes memories come unbidden, leaving us weeping for someone we’ve lost or reminding of us of something we swore we’d never forget, other times it seems as if you can hear the gentle whir of water turning to ice, moment into memory.
I was sitting with the girls this afternoon, Fin in her swing and Briar and Avery, fat markers clutched in little hands, at the table on either side of me as I clicked away at my laptop. It was one of those rare moments when everyone was sated, all the necessary drinks and snacks had been doled out, diapers were fresh, art supplies were plentiful and my mood was serene.
“Mom, will you turn on the music like we had on last night yesterday at lunch?” Briar asked.
“Last night yesterday at lunch?” I asked with a grin.
“Uh-huh,” Briar chirped bobbing her head and making her curls, the exact color of perfect Sunday morning pancakes, bounce along her shoulders.
I crossed the room and pressed play on the iPod, an old show tune began playing as I sat back down. We sat in companionable silence, markers whispering and scratching on bits of paper, occasionally whistling along the table and the rhythmic tapping of my fingers on slick black keys lulling Fin to sleep.
After a while a song came on that inexplicably took me back home to Yakima. The easy strum of a guitar laced with a woman’s stripped down vocals led me back in time, to dusty roads winding through orchards, to cool evenings and impossibly wide blue skies. I was in my twenties, no kids, no husband, no plan.
I used to walk up the steps from my office in the basement of the theatre, not knowing the weather or the temperature. The sun always shocked me, so strong and pure. My drive home was toward the setting sun and sometimes it was almost too bright to drive. I’d zig and zag, eventually finding myself out in West Valley, enjoying the wind and possibility. I’d turn the music up and imagine the lyrics having been written for me.
I said I wanna touch the earth
I wanna break it in my hands
I wanna grow something wild and unruly
I wanna sleep on the hard ground
In the comfort of your arms
On a pillow of bluebonnets
In a blanket made of stars
Oh it sounds good to me
Cowboy take me away
Fly this girl as high as you can
Into the wild blue
Set me free oh I pray
Closer to heaven above and
Closer to you closer to you
And we danced
Out there on that empty hardwood floor
The chairs up and the lights turned way down low
The music played, we held each other close
And we danced
My daydreams were always about falling in love, finding my happily ever after. Each drive felt like it brought me closer to what I was meant to find, who, I was meant to find. They were sweet days, easy daydreams. No worries, no hurt, just wide open possibilities beneath a perfect desert sky.
It’s ten years later and three thousand miles away now. I have three daughters and, while not a cowboy, a husband who has flown this girl so very high. Sitting here at the table revisiting a time and place that made me who I am today, I feel so very lucky to be living in my happily-ever-after.
I can just see the smile on that girl, wind in her hair, cruising through the Yakima hills.
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