|hiking on the blue ridge mountains, 2005|
"I wanted to see you walking backwards, to get the sensation of you coming home. I wanted to see you walking away from me without the sensation of you leaving me alone..."
--from "Time and Time Again" by the Counting Crows
In 1991 I was 18 years old. Everything was changing. In that year I drove my faded blue Dodge Charger to Salisbury, North Carolina and entered Catawba College. I took a math entrance exam and placed into Calculus. I bought the big required copy of every thing for every class, and I began splitting a blueberry muffin every morning with my red-headed roommate.
Two years later, while Robert Redford was making an indecent proposal to Demi Moore, I was learning about Corinthian columns, method acting, and how to write a play. While the cost of a gallon of gas was $1.16, I started running in the mornings and staring at a tennis player in French class who unselfconsciously stuffed toilet paper in his nose.
While some federal agents were raiding a religious cult in Waco, Texas, I was rarely reading the paper but often daydreaming about fame and being thin.
In the early days of April 1994, while people were speculating about why Kurt Cobain killed himself, the boy that I would adopt was being born in a university hospital in Charlottesville, Virginia. I'd like to think I had a big cramp at that moment, but I probably didn't. I was probably hanging up flyers when he came crying into the world. He probably wasn't crying.
And then, just as casually as someone unwraps a sandwich and throws the plastic away, my life changed. Totally. No, not because of the boy. I would not know him until he was eight. My mother died, and then I graduated from college. Then I drove a white Honda Accord across country. Leaving is easy when it's the only thing you can do. I took the red-headed roommate with me.
I stayed particularly busy for eight years. I have always stayed particularly busy. From coast to coast, through many playings of the Counting Crows, through many gallons of paint on different bedroom walls, after many lost wallets and often in the presence of children or almost adults, I've made many decisions and promises. I've filled out lots of forms.
On a Monday night in February 2004, right after an earthquake hit Morocco, I became a foster mother. Everything changed. Not casually this time, but more like a magic trick. More like a "Hey, how'd you do that?" Like all the strings were pulled at the perfect time. I got the sensation of Fate messing with me. The only thing I knew how to do was to buy frozen chicken nuggets.
And now ten more particularly busy years have passed. Everything is changing...again. No one has told the cat. "2012 is the year of change" my husband said, but we were sitting in the same spots we always sit in, so it felt more like a story and less like the truth. It will take $60 to fill up my tank this week. We are going to be driving to Salisbury, North Carolina -- to Catawba -- so that my son can pick out his dorm room and fill out forms regarding his academic interests. I smell Fate in the room again.
While the windows are open and everyone is asleep, while shoulders are shrugging over secret service agents, just a few hours after Elise got voted off American Idol, right after I take a peek at the Best Buy bill and take a bite of a chocolate tart, I wonder. I wonder if time is doing to me what weather does to a fence. I wonder if change is as easy -- and necessary -- and cyclical -- as a twist of the washing machine dial.