Refuge of the Roads

I was stuck on an interminable Amtrak ride yesterday, surrounded by fussy kids. In those situations as in so many others, children are basically tiny drunks. I love my god daughters and respect others’ choice to, uh, perpetuate their lines but lordylordylordy: I had that feeling. The “Hear my spinster cry of freedom!” feeling. I tried not to roar, amused myself instead by dropping fat winks without smiling at the screaming children. Most of them got so freaked that they stopped their tomfoolery at least temporarily. (It takes a special sort of person to recognize the secret communion offered by a wink between generations.)

The universe being the gorgeous creature that it is, the flip side of that anti-child sentiment came flying toward me today as I was walking down Massachusett’s Minuteman lane. Streaming braids, ladybug helmet, bright yellow bicycle, scabby knees, the works. I gave this ladychild a huge smile on account of how much I loved her and she rewarded me with a bashful, gap-toothed smile of her own. Just then Joni’s “I met a friend of spirit” lyric popped on myPod shuffle.

It all reminded me of two stanzas from a Robert Haas poem that a good beau had sent me a few years ago:

The woman I love is greedy,
but she refuses greed.
She walks so straightly.
When I ask her what she wants,
she says, “A yellow bicycle.”
Sun, sunflower,
coltsfoot on the roadside,
a goldfinch, the sign
that says Yield, her hair,
cat’s eyes, his hunger
and a yellow bicycle.

This in turn reminded me of a beau I’d loved more than I’ve loved anybody, one who gave me a beautiful yellow bike but broke my heart maybe on purpose. I beamed him love–equally beautiful, equally yellow–because for once I felt big enough to do so, and the words I’d been holding back from my book started pouring out. I hastened back to my godfamily’s home and opened my laptop in their backyard with many green breezes.

Nothing’s better than stepping back into the flow of life. Just nothing.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy