not everyone gets to go back. but i do.
to the window where i watched the night. watched the morning come. watched the storms thrash the trees.
to the window, in the room, where i grew up.
i can, if i want to, retrace my finger along the ledge. flop down on the same twin bed, still covered with the same patchwork quilt, the one i studied as i lay awake in the morning, picking which swatch i would want to see unfurled in yards and bolts of calico.
i can, if i want to, stare up into the same old oaks, the same old sky, and the linden that split in half, one stormy night when it nearly fell on my room, fell on me, tossing like the trees.
i can if i want to, fall asleep there again, count stars, pick out mercury, hovering, over by the weather vane, not far out the window.
i can because i still have a key to the house. because my mama still lives there, wouldn’t think of moving. wouldn’t think of leaving behind the garden she has planted, tended, defended, arranged and re-arranged as if the garden was her living room, i’m telling you. she moves peonies and iris and ostrich ferns the way some folks haul a couch across the rug, re-hang a picture.
sometimes, when we are there for sunday supper, or for hotdogs after the fourth of july parade, i climb the stairs when no one’s around. i go back. i check on things out my window.
i might flop down on my bed, being careful, always, not to muss the quilt. i am old enough now to know those quilts are art, a fact that mostly escaped me when i was little, when i might have been harsh on the teeny-tiny stitches that, except for me, have withstood 100-some-odd years.
the curtains no longer are the ones i loved when i was little. those were swiss. white on white. french knots and chain stitches. vines and blossoms and little buds, climbing up the sheer white cotton. i thought it exotic, i really did, that my curtains came from switzerland. the swiss know lace, i remember being told. i think that made me puff my chest, just a little, knowing i was a girl who had swiss curtains hanging at my windows.
oh, i had two. two windows. one looked east, into the trees and the old orphanage next door, where hippies or roosters, or both, would cause a mighty ruckus, from dawn ’til deep into the night. and one looked south, beyond the rooster, this one metal, black-painted metal, who spun with the wind, over to the woods and the willows of the green pond, where i tiptoed out on logs, stirred a stick through the green slime, watched it whirl, make ripples, tried to catch a frog.
i loved the green pond.
between my windows and the pond, i was pretty much destined to be a dreamer.
of all the frames of all the reels of my growing up, those would be the ones where i am all alone, becoming. as the one girl in a house of boys, on a winding dead-end street populated–no, ruled–mostly by boys on sting ray bikes, i would say the refuge and the possibility offered by those two places, the window, the pond’s edge, were most essential.
a girl–and a boy, too–needs a place where it can be just you and your dreams. children, if they’re lucky, seem to have a knack for sniffing out a dreaming place.
i cannot imagine a growing up without dreaming. i don’t think, in all the existential equations, you can really do your growing, if you don’t do your dreaming.
it’s why my window calls me. still. it’s why i often tiptoe up my mother’s wooden stairs. cock my head. look out. see if all the dreams i birthed there, and some of the stories too, might come spilling back.
those window panes have been the frame for many, many scenes in the unspooling of my life. some dreamed, others very real.
it’s the glass that boxed the blurry stars, the ones i saw through tears that would not end, on the night my papa died. but it’s the screen i looked through, too, on the afternoon of my garden wedding. i was up there, dressed just like a bride, and i peeked down on the scene of so many long-ago nights of tag and makeshift camping tents. i saw my old backyard dressed up, gussied just like me, all white and waiting for a wedding.
i brought my newborn baby to that room. held him up to the window. tried to make the leaves soothe his crying. the way they’d so often soothed mine.
it is a tingly blessed thing that that window is still there. is still within my reach. not everyone can go back to the place where all their dreams were launched.
but i can.
and i know that makes me blessed.
can you still go back to your bedroom window? was it the place that birthed your dreams, or was your place beneath the stairs, or beside a creek? did you ache when your bedroom window was sold to someone else? or worse, knocked down by a wrecking ball? a crashing end that comes too often in these demolition days.