We can’t return
We can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game. – Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game
No matter where we are going, no matter the length of our travels, my passenger’s side rear view mirror contains the image of my girl’s scrunched face trying to prick my attention to solicit a beam in reply. If it’s warm, she rolls down the window and leans her chin out like a puppy lapping up the breeze, hair flying wild. Childhood in a snapshot. It’s swiftly getting left behind in the rear view mirror. With Princess Commando entering 6th grade, Henry beginning his freshman year of high school, First Born Son closing out his high school stay in senior year, and a three year old who overnight has grown legs and lost her baby face, I have been gazing into that slip of glass more frequently lately. Lingering in sweet comforts of the way we were- moving forward with butterflies in my stomach.
I took Princess Commando to visit her former school which houses grades Pre-K- 4. The building recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. She marveled at the new wing with its floor-to-ceiling windows, a dedicated Art room (instead of Art on a Cart), a full sized gymnasium. She was amused by the cosmetic upgrades and the arrangement of the classrooms. She ran her fingers over her former locker number. Her shoulders sank.
“I wish I could go back.” It was so much simpler then.
We walked down the same hallway we traveled on the first morning of kindergarten 7 years ago. It was only yesterday that I twisted her honey highlighted hair into two jaunty ponytails on the top of her head, helped her pull on her colorful tights and slip on her suede moccasins. The corridor is brighter now and at the end of it, there is a wall papered in a life sized black and white picture of a tree-lined promenade-a blown up photograph of a parkway designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the school’s namesake. The lane unfurled through time and space. I stood before it focusing on the point where the perspective narrows. The future and past locked hands in a bittersweet waltz. Zephyrs of hope and longing spilled off the print. My 11 year old standing on my right and her 5 year old essence on my left.
No matter where we are going, no matter the length of our travels, no matter the physical or emotional distance between us, I will seek their faces- eyes wide with wonder, hungry to learn, yearning to become the people they are today- in that slip of glass.
First Born Son on his first day of Pre-K, 14 years ago. It seems like 100 years ago. It seems like yesterday.