As I wait for the school bus, I pace. The movement adds to my daily step total, ticked away by my Fitbit pedometer. A block up, a block back, my long, dark wool coat blowing around my calves. Pause for a sip of water from the steel thermos I carry. Back again. Walking meditation.
Hard cement wears away my rubber soles; they have begun to click. I walk on the outside of my heels. Always taking ballet steps, feet turned out. Click, (step), click, (step). Opposite of a former fellow reporter. She tip-toes everywhere, her large frame bouncing lightly, like a cartoon bear. Her feet deserve Hanna Barbera sound effects: tinkle-tinkle-tinkle-peep.
Wednesday, I squished on marshy grass, climbing the small hill by the road to escape the cars, splashing through dense rain. Water hit us in waves, flipping umbrellas inside-out. The mother of my boy's best friend gave me a sturdy black umbrella, not to borrow, but to keep. The perfect solid weight for leaning upon, the sort of umbrella I once carried through London's streets. Rain soaked my coat so thoroughly I had to stick it in the dryer the next morning.
Wetter walks, stream hiking, in summer camp. We were told to bring old sneakers specifically for these hikes. Water squishing through canvas and leather. Rocks and silt underfoot, waves sloshing around ankles. A crawdad scuttling away, spooked clouds of minnows. Twigs bumping downstream, colliding with log, then a rock. Then spinning free.
Mottled light and shadow, flashes on the ripples. The ripples spill downstream, like thoughts. Nature's musings. Tree dreams.
In my memory, we always walk upstream, the way we started. Each time, pushing against the current, the exhilaration of this new way of being. Fording the opposite, the challenge bringing to life the act. Walking must feel like this for toddlers. To navigate uncertainty, to force the air from around you, make a space for your own will.
Most everything flows downstream -- time, the way we get carried. Yet, eddies swirl in front of deep-rooted trees. Circle above the cool, the stillness. Where a fish might live, a fish with silver fins, who can dart upstream, downstream, cross stream.
A silver-finned fish swam through my dream stream, bringing detritus. Again and again, the attic door of my childhood home opening on a nighttime bathroom trip. The attic door that did, in fact, open by itself, often. In my dreams, I am alone in the dark, sitting. The door creaks open. The door whose rack held my towel, making me afraid to hang it up. A towel, which according to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," comes in useful on countless occasions. A hat, a cape, a pillow, or to ward off nasty aliens. Not, however, to ward off dreams, partly based in reality. A door opening into the attic, inviting you to go up the stairs. The roof slanted the wrong way, so that you must crouch at the top to continue. A place where, awake, I once found a red liquid running down the central chimney, which my parents failed to investigate. I found a word chalked on an eave that no one in my family wrote, for which, without evidence, I suspected our neighbor. The exact word lost to memory, like so much jetsam.
In the dream attic, at the top of the stairs, stood a figure. Silent warrior, like a movie poster, his palm held out towards me, light shooting outwards. Surrounded in concentric halos. Bruce Lee, I called him. A private joke forever after. The ghost of Bruce Lee lives in my attic.
When my sister called me, I was naked. She wouldn't say what she wanted, at first, but her tone told me the news was bad. I grabbed the easiest clothes: a black peasant shirt, bought for a Renaissance Faire trip with my sister's family; my black cotton pants. In a voice rippling with grief, she related how our Mom had died. In the bathroom, at night, staring at that door.
The silver fish navigates forwards and backwards, nibbling on the future, darting into the past. Spawned by an important moment, a deep pool defying the rules of time. A door. The bathroom. Darkness. Light.