I close my eyes and I am 15 again. 16, 17. We are driving in her SUV, cigarettes hanging carelessly from our fingers, smoke trailing through the windows. We are invincible.
I open them and I am here, in her car again, with two dogs panting in my ears somewhere in rural Newfoundland.
The years have washed us in their tides, sometimes we claim to be helpless, like a jellyfish trapped in a current. Other times we have a firm hold on decisions and pull ourselves towards each other.
In ways, we are at a place we never expected to be. We are 30. Life now is much different than the life we projected, although I’m not sure that we ever projected this far. It was always tomorrow and then the tomorrow after that. Time was measured in moments and occasionally months, but never decades.
Her heart is broken, and so I am here. Because that is the intimate connection that we share. Months and years go by with no more than a few words, but pain will always bring us back together again. She held my hand this past winter, and now I hold hers.
I sing loudly, and off-key, on purpose and also because it’s the only way I sing. I make her listen to bad music and roll down the windows. Occasionally I look over and her eyes have so much sadness inside but she blinks and it’s hidden again, the way it always was. We both pretend I didn’t see and she asks me to roll her another joint. My fingers feel big and clumsy, I have long left the art of joint rolling behind. But roll I do and then we laugh at it because it’s sloppy and I’m a mom.
We drive through mountains and hills and beside the ocean. We drive through the thickest fog I have ever seen, we look for moose. We talk about sex and love and anger and hurt. We talk about children and men and money. We sit silently and we drive.
There was a moment, in elementary school, when I realized that one day I would write the date “2000.” It seemed magical and scary in its difference. The future seemed more mysterious because all of the numbers would be different. But here I am, writing cheques for taxes and daycare and insurance policies, long past 2000, and the future is the present and much less mysterious than I once thought it would be.
Now here we are, 2011 and that futuristic number is still mystifying, but not in the Planet of the Apes kind of way. More in the staggering reality of how my life has changed so very much in the past 15 years. I blinked once, twice maybe, and now here I am. I still feel 17 sometimes and I’m not sure that that feeling ever goes away.
We drive, across the whole of Newfoundland, until we come to St. John’s. Splattered in sunlight, we arrive. Tired, dirty, dusty. I will board a plane the next day and go home. But for her? It’s new. It’s fresh. It’s filled with the potential that a 30 year old woman child needs.