by Lisa

We might have moved, of course.  If not for other, short, solid branches of family, our roots could sink into any fertile earth.  On the trip from here to the frontier, I imagine life without branches, smooth and unsnagging.   Where would we go?  We would head west, south, toward the sun.  We would lift our roots every spring and repot into a mobile planter, and roll around the world.  Come fall, maybe return to our starting point, maybe not.  She’s adaptive enough to live an unschooled life.  She makes lessons for herself out of sticks and rocks, and just a little input from me would craft an education.  Home and school, already, have no division.  Life is school.  Life is education.

But, she is from here now.  We are from here.  Here is good enough for right now, because strong, thick branches of family spread from our stout mother-daughterness.  She needs those connections, and to know how to get to the grocery store or the library or her school and back home.  Before long, she’ll be on two wheels in this big town, and she won’t get lost.  We stay.  We make friends, the kind that stop in for no reason.  We know our neighbors, and we know how much back-yard silliness we can get away with.  The answer is lots and lots, even messiness in the name of play.  The next warm afternoon will find us out back  on a mission, to clean up and prepare for spring.  We know where we will be for the summer, and fall, and winter, and another spring: right here.

Here is fine.  If I were just Me, I would certainly have moved away, or bought a bed on wheels.  Birds can live happily in a camper.  So could a dog.  I so wanted a dog.

If I had been just Me, not from here or anywhere any more, my address would shift with the seasons.  A truck and an Airstream –or a Volkswagen–and a dog without an urge to eat finches, and an internet connection to the University of Phoenix would suit me nicely.  Sundresses and sandals, with warm things only for accidents in navigation or visits to cold-climate friends.  A doll-sized kitchen and a big, big bed, and bravery, and a bike.  Bravery in large doses, and pillows in large numbers, and Nutella every day and port wine cheese and crackers and bacon and eggs and tomato soup with grilled cheese, and fresh corn and Cadbury Mini Eggs in season. I think of those because they’re in season, and I missed them last year.

We are We, for now.  She will grow up and leave me very soon, and the Airstream might happen before then anyway.  When she leaves, I will look back on the thirteen or thirty years yet to come and feel like I need more time right here, watching her sing and play and grow and become her own version of a Me, but not me.

Now, I need to clean the finches’ cage and freshen their nests.  They are my tiny prisoners, and I try to give them a good life.  My daughter is my tiny warden, and I try to maintain my own good life in the bounds of our rootedness, for the good of the We.

So far, so good.