it’s been three years.

three years since we got up at 5 am on a frosty morning and rushed by cab to the bus station and then across the street to the other bus station, dragging luggage like a wedding train, because we could never remember which place sold the Express Bus tickets. and then i found out that the Express Bus was sold out and was flabbergasted because it was 5 in the bloody morning and i’d never seen an Express Bus sold out but hey, there was a tour group and all my righteous indignation wasn’t going nowhere. so we caught another cab to the train station, Plan B…you lugging the bags and stuffing them in and out, bless you, and then you put me on the train bound for Seoul and by transfer to Incheon airport and i made it in time and changed plans at Narita outside Tokyo and then Vancouver, i think, or Toronto, and diverted to Montreal in a snowstorm and all the while i had an ultrasound photo stuffed in my passport just in case the opportunity arose to show it off and maybe get myself bumped up to a seat that reclined – hey, i’m pregnant, you know, and isn’t that special and just out of my first trimester, this trip is 36 hours door-to-door and getting longer all the time, any chance of an extra blanket and getting my pillow plumped? – and i was moving home, coming home, prodigal returns and kill the fatted calf.

my mother came out in that snowstorm by cab at 1 in the morning just to make sure i had someone to meet me. i had been gone almost sixteen years.

but i was coming home to make good and i had sent so many resumes on ahead and you would follow two weeks later when your contract got tied up and we were going to have a baby, a baby, a baby finally, and for the first time in my life i felt like i’d made choices rather than just being buoyed about by opportunity or lack thereof and i was so goddam happy and filled with possibility and grateful that you were willing to risk this small, insular place, this place where you’ll always be “from away” even though “away” is a four hour drive, in your case, and not really so foreign. and i woke up that first morning on the hide-a-bed in my mother’s apartment to a world that was snow white and blanketed three feet deep and i felt young again, surrounded by the childhood things of home, and safe.

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it has been three years, and you made it but so much else didn’t that i thought for a long time we’d drown in the water under the bridge. and yet here we are, still here, with this house and that blond boy upstairs sleeping and tonight it is snowing again. and i am happy and filled with possibility again and grateful just to have you with me, the two of you…father and son.

but the memory of that morning is like a snapshot i revisit every year, when its anniversary comes up…when i remember all that hope, that fleeting glimpse of a simple, steady life, for a second, for a season. and i wonder who the girl in that picture was and why i feel so dead inside when i try to look at her, to imagine being her again, on that first morning. it is her naivete that i find so incomprehensible, an affront to my eyes. i can see her glee and her relief and her tentative sense that surely if we just put our minds to it and work and endure, from here, it will come together, because we’ve got the important things in place, you see.

and i do not know if it is her that i feel so sorry for, knowing how the pages of that story unfold…her or me…who will never feel safe like that again.

we have stayed longer than i ever thought we would. we are peaceful here, i think, for now. nothing has been as i’d thought it would be…and yet, i am glad we came. and i would not go back to that morning for anything. i cannot imagine what it would be like to live in that time, anymore, everything open and possible still.