I used to come back every summer. Missed, immersive, vivid, dissected: my childhood memories; a loan from the past –rug burns on my knees, squirts of water on my shoulders, bees zooming from their hives, chasing us uphill, popcorn popping, paintings on my face, the Ferris wheel spinning the kids’ laughter, cotton candy melted under the late sun. It feels as if I never left, really.
Fast-forward, and I repair the fence, fix the satellite dish (I wish), sip red wine with Mom and Dad, right next to the catalpa we planted together. I set off canoeing with my sister, the two hermanas reunited again; we go hiking too. Resting under a weeping willow I notice that they all bend towards the river, as if making requests their shrinking partner, now a narrow stream in this stretch, can no longer oblige.
My old room, a larger bed in it, feels hotter, even with the windows open. The dahlias explode in the garden, but the violet butterflies are missing; these whispering fans hovering over the magical creatures of my intergalactic hunts. He is here with me. We look at ourselves in the mirror, bodies in sync; my round shape catches our sight, our smiles and our hopes.
I visit my parents; their stone graves robust, resilient, unchanged. I leave them a bunch of flowers from the catalpa tree, and head to town. I stop by Sarah’s coffee shop, only to find that it is now a Starbucks joint; I sit by the window and have my latte with a dash of sorrow.
I am in the kitchen; my daughter jumps into my arms as she rushes in from the backyard. Her cheeks, sun-kissed dahlias. ‘Look’ she says in awe, pointing at the violet butterflies hovering around the bushes. Their return makes sense to me; she and her brother are my magical creatures.
My son recruits me to rescue Thomas the Train–– just seeded, caught beneath a rock fall created by him in the rock garden. Something I didn’t know when I was growing up, that a garden could be made of rocks. We haven’t found Thomas as of yet; we probably haven’t looked hard enough; I wonder what will grow from that.
Fragments from the past, rock falls of memories; sometimes they engulf my present. I am here year round now. I hope the kids also keep coming back and, when time comes, they bring me flowers from our tree.