I will not say goodbye just because I am always leaving. My mother never says goodbye and now I understand why. You have enough of them and they begin to feel like a bad omen. See you later is so much easier to stomach.
I will tell you the hillside is end of summer burnt brown, the grass gone to seed and the path worn smooth from summer’s bare feet. I will tell you the sea is restless and the tide is high. A deep grey fogbank hugs the horizon and a buffer of white pillowless clouds hover just before a break of perfect blue sky, the kind of blue you might imagine you see just before go. The kind of blue that cannot be replicated by anything that is not the sky.
Sitting on the beach I showed my son the moon. He has entered a phase where I can recognize that he recognizes the world. He points and he waves. His first words were, hi tree, just the other day. I was so proud. His communion with the natural world. His recognition of its life force. He sat rapt with the moon, worried almost, as it hung in the sky. He pointed at it and looked at me with those impossibly large eyes that are also mine and he asked me if it was alright. Is the moon alright?
On the corner, the magnolias bloom and the air has turned overnight into that wet fall air that asks you to wear a sweater in the shade, the nearly imperceptible shift of seasons in a Southern California beach town. Here in this place, where there is always sand on our feet and the sea a constant hush that we hardly even hear it unless we are alone and half asleep.
This morning my son woke up in the dark and we sat in the rocking chair like we did together every night nearly a year ago, bent and bleary-eyed, shaped by the impossible experience of becoming two people instead of one. Pushed and pulled to the limits of our persons. Here we huddled and cried and asked the sea and the night to hold us while we held each other. This morning I showed him the thing he could not see before, but now his big eyes see like mine: the water changing colors, the swimmers in the dark with blinking buoys, a ship on the horizon, a line of birds making shadows on the dark water, and the moon.
Is the moon alright? Is the moon alright?
I wonder what of this place will be burrowed into my son like he is into me. I wonder if he will always feel called back to the sea, a tether to his heart, a line cast that cannot be broken. I tell him in the early morning hours we are going somewhere new because that is what we do. But we don’t say goodbye just because we are leaving.