She asked me if I brought any sweaters with me as I sat in the middle of her cold house. Shes getting ready to leave for the week spending new years day in the desert. although I didn’t exactly lie when I said that I had them somewhere. in my sleeveless blouse in the middle of the rainy season, I also knew they weren’t any where in this city. The coat and the head scarf I wear religiously out with me is all of the warm I brought with me from fes. the rest of my things are in my house somewhere in a suitcase that i hid away in a backroom upstairs. They just don’t feel comfortable as mine at this moment.
What I have with me are papers and books and a few items of clothing I blindly threw into my bag. in contrast to the hours i spent meticulously laying out clothes a month ago for the work and three weeks of traveling I had ahead of me. she’s gone and it’s just me now in the house taking care of the children and an old dog while wearing an orange tank top and a baggy pair of jeans. no jewelry. No earrings. And I’m Naked without them. one scarf and one black shawl keeps my half body a little warmer. Just enough to keep my fever and cough at the edge.
The little girl I am watching found me asleep on the couch late last night after reading them stories. I woke to her standing in front of me crying missing her mother. I’m weak and perpetually wanting to fall asleep, tired from a month without a full night between trains and boats. I jump up without knowing or thinking what I am doing. I take her up in my arms like she’s my baby and not someone else’s 70 pound child. I am cooing as if I have the answers to give her. it was so naturally done in the blur of night lights and darkness. If I was more awake to who I was I would not have thought I could easily embrace her little body. I would have normally respected the barriers I believe everyone has, especially children. I would have spoken to her like a little adult (that she is). but instead I remain blindly unawake/unaware. she’s my baby, this big child I’m carrying up the flights of marble. I still don’t remember what I said to her in my sleep-walking and I wish I did because I remember her answers as she was in my arms pouting “no” to everything I asked. I would have liked to know what it all meant. I find her room and I let her go down slowly to the bed realizing that my legs want to give way. realizing only now that it was a miracle I didn’t fall. even though i know i wouldn’t have dropped her. but If I was more awake/aware I would have remembered who I was and I wouldn’t have been who I could be.
I tell her, I’ll stay all night here and sleep with you if I have to. until you fall asleep. I try to keep my eyes open watching her to reassure her that I am not leaving her, not even to sleep. I’m here until you fall asleep. But I am fighting with my self to stay awake. She tells me, “I’m really tired. I’m really tired but I can’t seem to go to sleep.”
I understand. she already understands insomnia. she’s six and yet tells me she doesn’t think she wants to marry and perhaps never have kids. she wrote, “love. Yes. Love.” And on the reverse side, “Love can go (away).” How she has come to this mind of her own so young and in such a happy childhood is remarkable to me…I was like this but I had many unhappy reasons to be. She is so so loved and so very wise and practices her youth and impulse and sin like she just can’t help herself. she’s the pretty tomboy who understands life intuitively and gets so hurt by it. getting so mad with herself if there is something she doesn’t understand because she thinks she should. I see her passionately fighting with her sister because “you’re the only sister I’ll ever have!” she is her mothers daughter. and i see the light in her mother’s eyes when we say that.
i remember. I remember the bus taking us to Hampshire. I remember the sun. I remember sitting on hay with a brown paper bag with my green wedding dress. This was happiness.
There is the possibility that it could never come again. These simple moments taken for granted. Like college and the town it was in that means only everything because I met and made love and married you. It’s the only home I made. Fragile. Youthful. Vulnerable. Volatile. Crazy. Beautiful.
And so I seek out the walls in my head. And your arms tangled in my body. I wish I could sing. each joy and each touch and each pain back. who knew these ordinary days could be the height of happiness. who knew that these days, these ordinary boring days that I would bitch about with distain could be the last happy days of my life. if i knew they were my last. I would have been bewildered and even happy to say goodbye to them quickly. or i would worship them with a degree of indulgence that could not make them as special in their innocent ignorance. taking everything for granted. but who could have known these ordinary days could be my last joy. home with you for the first time. ever. in love with you. In love with you.
and still in love with you.
God make me an angel so i don’t have to fly far far away like a bird. God make me an angel so I may stay and watch over her. God make me an angel.