by Zinta Aistars
No idea why I wake so early. Peek at the clock in the dark ... digital numbers glow a faint green in the shadows: 3:12 a.m.
Maybe I do know.
So many thoughts running through my mind. So many paths unwinding. So many spotlights swinging white arcs across the sky, signaling highlight moments in my life, drawing the thresholds of new eras. My thoughts are a wild card, wild dance, bumper cars, dizzying carousel, a race across the field.
Long lists taking shape of all that needs doing. Empty boxes collecting in the corners of rooms, waiting to be packed. Books, rolls of socks, carefully wrapped pottery, dishes. Which furniture pieces? Which stay? Files to page through; no sense taking along what might better line a trash can.
A new life.
I take my parents out to see the new property. They've not been yet. Only seen my already hundreds of photographs, heard my happy chirps. Mama mumbles her fears. Too far, too deep in the woods, too many years weathering the old farmhouse, too large acreage to maintain, too ... whatever comes to mind. What she is saying, in truth, is that change can be frightening. What she is asking, in truth, is whether I will still be accessible when they need help or have a question floating loose or a debate between her and my father that needs to be settled. I will be. But the change will be real and will take time to get used to.
I wander my house of many years in the dark, awaiting morning. I try to imagine those first nights there, the first Sunday mornings. How long before I can trace a path up and downstairs in the dark and not bump into walls.
When I drive my folks to the property, they grow quiet when I turn into the long, winding driveway, taking us through a tunnel of overreaching pines. The red house is to the north, steps carved into the side of a hill. To our south, the hill continues upwards, and at the very top of the ridge, the little house that looks like Dr. Seuss built it, angles in every direction, windows at every height, cuts a sharp silhouette against the winter sun. Ahead is the weathered gray barn-workshop, and beyond that, acres of a snowy white cornfield stretch far, far.
Mama starts snapping photos the moment she climbs from the van. Every direction. My father's gaze wanders, holds, wanders again.
"Didn't realize ... or begin to imagine ... "
"Photos don't do it justice."
"How far? That treeline? That one way out there? That far one? Oh."
My father nods slowly, makes his way down the snowy stairs, peers in windows of the house, looks longer at the surrounding forest. He ponders the lacy ice spreading across the glass panes of the now unheated greenhouse like translucent lace curtains.
"I would like to spend a week here. Paint a watercolor ... do some sketching ..." he muses.
I am pleased. They like it here. I see the same look brightening their faces that I'm sure lit up mine the first time I came here.
"Listen," I whisper. "Can you hear the quiet?"
I think I can hear the snow fall and catch in the pine needles.
The morning lightens my old bedroom walls, pale light seeping through the slats of the blinds and drawing outlines across the opposite wall. I know this house so well. It's pressed into the crevices of my brain. My feet know the count of steps from one room to another. It's a good house, holding many memories.
I am ready to create new ones.