I’m 17, driving to the beach wearing a bikini top and cut off jeans. There are two other girls in this Rav 4 and cigarette smoke is drifting out the windows and we’re singing Janis Joplin or Dave Matthews or Lauryn Hill and life is so complicated and this was the year that I both lost my virginity and had my heart broken, so I really understand pain and all the lyrics in these slow songs. My hair is bleached blonde and cut into a pixie; it ruffles in he wind and sunglasses hide my face and life is wonderful but scary. I am lonely and hurt and too proud to admit it. I am self conscious of my flat stomach and I wish I were taller, thinner, more like anyone else the boy I’m in love with is with right now.
I blink and here I am, driving in a Camry Hybrid beside my husband with two girls piled in the backseat. The windows are down and their fine hair blows into their faces and tickles their noses. The sun is shining and we are driving to the beach for the first time this year. I don’t know what’s on the radio, it’s been turned down and tuned out by the noise of two kids yapping louder than the other in an attempt to be heard by parents who are actually almost always listening but still! Mom! Dad! Do you know THIS song? and their little voices fill the small car ten times over.
The soundtrack of my life has changed, drastically.
I’ve been waiting for inspiration, imagining a pen touched lightly to paper, ink flowing and spiraling into words, Harry Potter style – nothing. I’ve been watching my children closely, waiting for a lightening bolt of love to strike – nothing.
Life has been the quiet calm of my favourite beach at the last boardwalk at low tide. The late afternoon is always littered with children and parents and the occasional dog barking happily. The water is warm and the sandbars stretch forever. The sand oozes in between your toes as you curl them and it’s impossible not to sit down in the ankle deep water and play. Life has been steady moments of perfect, but none that glare as more perfect than the others.
Life has been curled on the wind from the Atlantic Ocean, life lifts up pigtails and drops them heavily back down across innocent cheeks. Life has brought me three real-live writing jobs for July. Life is full of daydreams and stress and a million moments in between. Life is summer, now, and each morning I wake to daylight and everyone seems happier and somehow, the machinery of life is more pleasant every where that you look in late June.
Life has been wonderful. I blink, Freeze. The moment passes. I blink again, Freeze. Freeze. FREEZE. It never works, so I stop blinking and sit down beside my kids and paint or bead bracelets or play with stickers. I remind myself that the dog fur on the floor is infinitely less important than these moments, and that yesterday these girls were babies and tomorrow they’ll be grown. Leila asks me about school, she asks what she will learn and who her teacher will be and what will they play in gym class and I answer all of her questions as best as I can, but sometimes, inside I whisper, again, to myself, freeze.
It never works.