The cool Pacific fog rolled over the sandy dunes and tall oat grasses, the ice plants punctuating the hills with their fuchsia and golden blooms. We walked side by side, sharing snippets of our lives. From the verdant Midwest to drought-assailed California. Both of us with a baby, hers in a stroller smiling away and mine nestled closely, heartbeat to heartbeat, in a heavy sleep.
Does anyone ever want to leave the place they love, the place they call home? And what is home anyway, after we emerge from our first homes, blinking at the brightness of the world? Does anyone ever want to believe they will go back, that this is all only temporary? That was the meditation that was blowing in with the fog gusts and in between the pockets of blue sky that peaked through, to remind us what autumn in the Bay Area would bring.
We are the children that live in the city. That left the only homes we knew, to try on another identity, to shape shift from rural girls who played in the fields and conjured up dreams in the golden rain to those savvy women who jay-walk and know the best urban hideouts, or bagels, or ramen, or stairwells, or train cars.
And yet savvy women can sometimes feel like they are merely surviving, untethered to the soil, separated from the creek underfoot because all is paved over. Shading their eyes to look overhead into the light, to see if the birds are moving in unison, one direction or another. Straining their noses to pick up the scent of a changing season, which trees would drop their leaves to continue the cycle of decay and fertilization, which plants would bloom first to signify the shift from cold to mild. It’s hard to discern the passage of time when things bloom all year round here.
And they think, quietly, as they keep walking with long silences, each rocking and bouncing a new life, “there is no one here, alive or buried, who cradled me as a child. Who wiped my tears. Who braided my unruly curls. Who mused at how I loved to dig in the dirt, hoping to find an arrowhead or another buried treasure like a budding archaeologist. Who encouraged me in the ways they knew how.”
They wonder to themselves, volleying the thought back and forth through their glances, “what happened to my childhood bed, that holds the echo of a small body with big dreams. What happened to the rusting swingset, swing still swaying in the breeze, like it would after I jumped off and soared into the air, tumbling into the wet grass on the landing. What happened to the house, does the laughter that once filled it reverberate in the walls that remember, that saw it all, witnessed birth, life and death. And what about the fireflies, who sometimes decide not to blink their lights and broadcast their existence from their corner of the yard, for no real good reason. Or at least no reason that we can understand.”