As a writer who documents my life weekly, the gift I get in exchange for the deadlines is a chance to look back on previous versions of myself.
Because sometimes I feel compelled to look back, like I did last night as I tried to quiet the worries that come with full-blown adulthood — a worry much different from the ones I used to possess.
In a few weeks, my little sister will be moving her family to the ranch. They’ll build a house right down the road from us. When they’re all bigger, our girls will be able to meet on their bikes to play. In fact, if the wind is right and they find a hill, they could stand outside and yell to make plans.
Time will tell if they ever figure that one out — the same way time has shown us.
Seven years ago, I sat with my little sister on the love seat in the back room of my parent’s house while she was home deciding the next step to take after college, deciding whether or not to move back. And we were a bit younger then, but the same amount of uncertain about how it might all turn out.
The love seat was small and so my sister and I were shoulder to shoulder, and my other shoulder was smashed up against my husband’s leg as he leaned back, sprawled out on the arm of the overstuffed piece of furniture. The three of us, we were a sandwich, and I was the lettuce, the cheese, the pickle, mayo and turkey. They were the bread and we were everything you needed for a good bite.
We closed our eyes and listened to dad blow the air from his lungs through the harmonica he wore around his neck. We heard a lonesome sound, one that’s familiar and haunting.
I got a shotgun, a rifle and a four-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive...
We leaned in closer, not knowing then what those words might mean after more years passed, his hair more silver than it was yesterday, his fingers callused, his voice ringing with those pieces of gravel that dug their way in from years of playing songs like this in bar rooms.
We didn’t know then. We just knew it was quiet that night. The dogs were asleep and the trucks were taking a different route. We knew the stars were out.
Country folks can survive…
In the kitchen, the warm scent of brownies my mom was frosting fresh from the oven drifted back to us smooshed together, the sandwich, on the love seat. I couldn’t see her from my position as the lettuce, cheese, pickle, mayo and turkey, but I knew my mother was sipping wine and running her long fingers along the pages of a new magazine.
Everything I ever knew for certain then was filling my lungs and my ears, touching my shoulders and swaying along to all of the things I was on the inside. What I didn’t know didn’t matter then.
I was his lungs and heart and pieces of his gravelly voice.
I was her fingers and worries and holidays.
I was his good-nights, his battles and his wishes.
I was her blood, her memories… her shoulder.
And I remember thinking that if I were not those things, I might not exist at all.
But we are much more now, that sandwich, busy now becoming pieces of the new little hearts we’ve created. And time will reveal to us the rest, but it isn’t good at helping us remember, so I write it down.