What we keep
Yesterday Rosie, Noah and I were walking home from summer morning day camp, backs sticky with sweat and eyes squinted towards the afternoon sun, when a man on a bicycle coasted past us on our left. “Mama YOOK,” Rosie declared, leaning forward in her stroller with her finger pointed ahead. “A BIKE.”
“That’s right, a bike,” I replied, and she settled back in her seat as we continued to roll down the sidewalk. It was a small exchange – a throwaway comment made up entirely of words she’d said many times before about a commonplace occurrence. But it struck me in that instant how all of a sudden, with those two tiny sentences, she had arrived to a new place that I had not known she’d been nearing. She had strung those four words together to tell me a simple thing, and I received that information easily and casually, like she had been delivering such proclamations for years. That small moment marked a sort of awareness in me of the shifting of time, and I knew this because hours later I could still clearly see that image in my mind – her posture, her pose, her extended arm – a portrait of a girl who was leaving babyhood behind. It had been captured in freeze frame and filed away to that place where all the other records of the uneventful events of life are kept – that hidden tome holding the pictures that surface with a familiar scent or gesture or melody on the radio.
Those images will be what will remain of all these hours of baths and scraped knees and sandwiches with the crusts cut off, years from now when my days are filled with different things. A multitude of mental snapshots of ordinary moments, tucked away for safe-keeping until that future time when, walking down a sidewalk, I am passed by a man riding a bicycle on a hot summer day.
(Music: Time of Times by Badly Drawn Boy)