You’re right, the place we live is ancient, all smoothed down to moss and stone. The peaks that still tower are like old men who were once tall, but are now hunched over and made gentle. The caves here have no monsters inside. We will not be bitten, or crushed, or frozen. This place will never break our bones or our hearts.
Xander begins 2nd grade tomorrow. I had a sad little moment in the Target baby aisle, smelling the vanilla Pampers smell. I used to bring him there when I needed to get of the house, to break up the day. I didn’t feel too scattered when he was a baby; I liked the way it felt to be a young mother. I had very few friends, since I was the only one who had a baby (and was the only one who was married). We had moved to Tennessee a year or so before Xander was born, so anyone who knew me deeply was far north and away. The acquaintances I made as a bank teller during our first year here did not know my cell phone number, and I didn’t call any of them when Xander was born. It would have felt odd to have them in my pretty little birthing suite, because I didn’t like any of them much and they didn’t like me back. Ordering a large order of hibachi chicken at lunch, splitting it, watching Y&R on the tiny break room television, and even repeating the routine almost every day for a year does not a strong bond make. There was one girl, a bit younger than me, who used to go to the tanning bed with me or to the mall to shop. She had also married fairly young and though her upbringing was strict and Baptist, we found common ground and conversation both in sales racks at Dillard’s and through long discussions about tanning accelerator lotion while driving in her sporty little Honda.