On Holding On

It has been ages since I have sat here, and just a moment. The way time folds I am here again and I also never left. I do not think there is anything so comforting to me as this familiar view. The hillside green in the fall from rain and the sea as calm as it can be, small waves roll onto the sands and blinding patches of sun glitter make the water so bright and beautiful I have to look away.

In the winter the air is cool but the sun midday has a heat specific to this place, specific to southern California. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever love another place the way I love it here. The sand is dotted with armfuls of seaweed washed up from high tide, and three dogs chase frisbees. How can something so ordinary be so remarkable? I want to believe an afterlife.

Lately, time feels different, more finite because of my son. He is growing in ways that are visible, more traceable. He waves at birds and trees and everyone and has reactions and questions even if he cannot speak. The time in which he is with me and small feels so brief that I can hold it in one hand. Someday he will be his own person and living his own life with his own views. Everything else besides him feels trivial.

How do we apply importance and weight to the things we once loved when the center of our universe has shifted?

In the brief moments I have on my own I am left trying to weigh the importance of what I want, one thing against another. Time to write or eating a piece of cheese toast while staring out at the sea? Which serves me more? Which in the end will be a better way to spend the time?

I have been preoccupied with time passing since I was a young child, with a Tupperware chest beneath my bed of mementos like concert tickets, and gum wrappers, and the t-shirt I was wearing during my first kiss, a stack of journals, a stuffed animal, a handwritten recipie from my grandmother. I still have these things, living now in new chests, black with gold buckles and stored in a cabin in Idaho for safekeeping. They have over the years collected more relics like my grandmother’s silk scarfs and serving tray, and my diploma, photo booth strips of ex-boyfriends, and a beer stein, and old short stories and teaching notes and my expired passport with all the good stamps from my traveling years.

I am wondering where does this impulse come from and why have I been chronically nostalgic since my childhood? Do other people feel the need to carry the past even when it is still the present? I came into this life with a desire to hold on, tooth and nail, no matter what. But I cannot hold onto the things I love the most. I cannot ask the ocean to wait for me or my son to stay small or good looks not to leave me.

What good is holding on when we cannot hold the things that matter most? And how can I justify time to write, something that is of no guaranteed outcome, when he is here and he is guaranteed? How do we weigh time against meaning and where into that do we equate the weight of what is lost as time passes by?

How can anything be so beautiful and how can love hurt so much? How do we exist in the liminal balancing space, the horizon line, of what we have and what we want while both shift like the tide? What I do know is that all of this has something to do with forgiveness, though I am not sure how to ask for it.

What I will want to remember later about this time is that he loves to go on walks and will wave at every person who passes by. He loves helicopters and airplanes and delivery trucks. He watches other children with an intense fascination and eats by shoving his fat hand all way into his mouth. He loves raspberries and sausage and any restaurant. He laughs at his father and crawls after the dog and is stubborn and emotional. And lifts his hands in the air to say I don’t know, and it hurts knowing how much I will forget. He bites my ankles if I do something he doesn’t like and prefers to always be outside. Next time I find the time to write he will be different, always becoming something else. Perhaps I am asking time for just a little forgiveness, just a little give this once.

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