There are empty bedrooms in my house, at least, during the winter months. I am sitting in one of them now. A made bed, tidy shelves, a neat desk, a laptop that I don’t have to chase anyone away from….it is so quiet.
     The window overlooks the street, and from my little nook, I can see the late-afternoon activity outside. A temporary thaw has cleared snow from the streets, and two sisters from a few houses down have strapped on their dusty roller blades and are sailing past. I caught glimpses of their faces as they paused and spun in slow circles in front of my house–total freedom, calm enjoyment, an in-the-moment experience. I drive these same two girls home once a week from a music camp, and I have come to happily anticipate those funny conversations with my back-seat companions– their entertaining perspectives and opinions, their happy banter, and uninhibited singing. It took me awhile to realize that I was liking it so much because it was sort of like having my own girls back again. Not that I don’t have them now….I see them all the time, and never really have a chance to miss them–except that I do, sometimes. I miss them in their shorter forms. I can still see them out in the street, calling to one another, riding past on bikes or roller blades–their little blonde heads and fresh faces. Bandaids and snacks, that pretty much solved any problem they might have had in those days.

     I used to think small kids were so exhausting….but then they started driving cars, having boyfriends, accumulating student loans….and now there are things I cannot fix; in fact, truth be told, things I don’t even know about. Yes, they are not far away, yet I find myself homesick, thinking about them–the same way I get homesick for my own mom, and the kitchen she used to make me french toast in–the propane stove radiating heat, sun streaming in through the window over the sink,  the black phone on the wall, a long and a short and a long to tell us when to answer the phone.

     The present is filled with its own brands of blessings and contentments–so much to be thankful for. But some times in dreams, I find myself trying to get back–as though the past were a place, and there are people there, watching the door and waiting for me.

     But in sadness, truth be told, there is no road, no door to find, a key to match a forgotten lock…there is no way back.  All we have is this elusive present, which threatens all the time to dissolve and join the ranks of the days falling behind us. I can’t gather those little girls close to me again, or my son, either–I can only hope that I did some things right, and that for awhile, they felt safe.

     It all went by so fast.