I am pacing, around and around and around.
I’m flicking off kitchen lights, bathroom lights, walking the same ten-block radius over and over. Driving the same handful of highways back and forth all day long. Turn the lights off, turn them all off. Turn the lights off at the back of the store, flip the breakers — shhh. I am turning circles in my bed, wearing down the heel of my shoes.
I would always pace with the baby when he was a baby; he’s seven now. I would sing “Moonshadow” and “Dream a Little Dream” softly, lulling him to sleep, and we would walk slow circles around their kitchen. He would grow warm and heavy with sleep and even when I knew he was sound asleep, I’d sing to him just a little more. I always wonder if he remembers those songs. I do, when I move this memory around and around in my brain, with my arms missing that full feeling, that gentle slowdown. Babies force you to stop and move at their pace. When you spend your days with children, everything moves in circular patterns. Every day is exactly the same.
I used to ask people what their happiest moment was, and mine was him. It still is. He was two, driving wooden trains across my kitchen floor, humming with baby joy, while I made cookies and sang along to Ella Fitzgerald on the radio. That was it. It was summer and the windows were open. I had everything I needed at that exact moment, and that happens so rarely that when it does, you remember it forever and file it away.
I don’t have anyone to care for like that anymore. All my birds have flown the coop. They’ve gotten older, tired of me, moved on. Boys, girls and babies. I had always told you that when you were sad I’d lay beside you and sing you every song I knew the way I’d done with Brody, and when I told you it was over (because it was) and you cried until your eyes ran red, you wouldn’t let me.
That is why it ended, you know. You pushed me away just a little too hard one day and all I wanted was to take care of you. It was the same thing, the same shit for four years
When I was little, I would have horrible nightmares about being behind the wheel of a car I had no idea how to drive, and it would take me on a rampage around the city. If I close my eyes, I can still feel that dream shaking and swerving my child body in circles. I still have this nightmare every so often, and I feel like it’s telling me I’m still just driving in circles in my daily life.
I know what’s good for me. I just don’t think I want it.