Where I Am Now

All I can write about now is my children. I told a friend recently that I feel as though parts of me are buried beneath ice and snow, frozen whole, and that maybe one day I will uncover them and breathe life into them. Maybe not.

When I was living in Wisconsin, images from my former life in Boston would sometimes flash though my mind: a street lamp on the corner of Boylston and Tremont, a parking lot across the street from my Brookline apartment, a giant fish tank at the Thai restaurant where Al Gore, looking pudgy and defeated, once held the door open for a friend and me.  I was never thinking about Boston or the past when these images appeared—they just did.  I think my mind was trying to figure out where these things had gone.

Trement and Boylston, 1800

Something like that happens to me now. I will be looking out the kitchen window and I will see a single bird take flight, a dark arrow in the darkening night, and I will see myself—feel myself—walking past a church in Harvard Square, my heart breaking and bruising under a steel grey sky.  Or I am standing in the White Horse Tavern in Brighton, just before closing, leaning into someone I left a Back Bay bar to see.  Or I am in the back seat of a car on Storrow Drive, floating between the river and stars, making out with a boyfriend I will never know well, because for me there was really only one boy in all those years, one disaster.

I was unhappy much of the time. At the end of each day I was left looking for something, left with the sense of unease that night always brought me. The world as filtered though my unquiet mind was dark but lit by small piercing beauties, like an ancient church with rose, blue and white glass windows.

I was always watching. I was always writing.

I used to be haunted by places and things; now I am haunted by my former self, with all her attendant dangers.

I miss her sometimes. But if I am honest, I can see that what she wrote about most of all was herself.

It is February now, a month when the sky is brighter but the ground is still cold. I spend long afternoon hours on the toy room rug with my children, placing the baby in a patch of sun. Sometimes I play a song I like, something that breaks up some of the ice inside me. I never play songs I listened to ten or twelve years ago; they are still too dangerous, still make me too sad. The songs I listen to now are themselves often sad, and so beautiful they make me ache. Sometimes I pick the baby up off the floor and dance with him, spinning through sunlight made even brighter by the snow outside, happy in my new, full world. Not looking back.

– AC


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