Over the weekend, I stay in bed so late that it is disorienting – accustomed as I have become to waking before the light. The sun is already bright and high when I rise, make my way down the hall to ready myself for the day. Despite the relative lateness of the hour, I do not feel rested. My body feels heavy, leaden. I try to think of lightness – think of the invisible thread running through my body, as I have been instructed to do over the years – by the physical therapist, the yoga teacher, the dance instructors – I am trying to elongate, to lift myself up.
When I finally unpack from our trip, I come across a pink dress that I did not wear, but when I shake it out to hang it in my closet, I find a dark stain on it, near the neckline. I look in the suitcase, to see what it had been packed next to, but I don’t see anything that could have caused this. The fabric is dry now, to the touch, the stain the size of my palm – large enough to be puzzling.
We venture out – the day brilliant and beckoning – and walk in the park that is bordered by the bay. The air is sweet and redolent of honeysuckle, although we are still weeks away from blooms. The long, slender branches of forsythia show their tight green buds just waiting to burst and seeing them makes me impatient, makes me want to coax them into blossom.
The boys – my husband, my son – run on ahead and disappear into a little copse of evergreen trees. I can hear the sounds of their play in the distance. I sit in the grass facing the water and the sky is so cloudless, so blue that it seems to dissolve into the bay. It is difficult, at this particular moment – the sun warming my face, the blue water, the blue sky – to imagine wanting more than this.
I am bothered by the dress – wondering now if I perhaps packed it that way – stained from the party at the German Club – is that where I wore it last? How had it not found its way through the laundry? Or worse: had it already and still, the stain held fast?
On the drive into work, I am stopped at a light and glance over at the bus shelter. A man is standing there, looking down. I expect him to be looking at his phone, but instead, I see that he is staring at what appears to be his bus ticket – a simple white card. He is turning it over and back and I find this action comforting, pleasing. Around him, his daughter twirls, her bright orange backpack hanging on narrow shoulders.
Is it, perhaps, a function of my age that I find myself nostalgic for the simple tools of my youth? The dial telephone with its coiled cord? The record player – the gentle scratch and warp of it? A ticket to hold in one’s hand? A moment of rest from the glow of the tiny pocket screen.
As I drive off, I find myself wanting to hold this ticket in my hand, to rub it between my palms, feel the paper soften at my touch. Bring it to my face, hold it up to my cheek. Tear it a little at one corner. Slip the corner, surreptitiously beneath my tongue.
On the way back from the park, we find a record store on a side street where we barely ever go. Along one wall are pinball machines toward which my son makes a determined dash. I hover near him as he paws at the glass, presses the buttons insistently. I give M. some time to browse the wall of records uninterrupted and when I look over, he is flipping through them, his head bent in concentration. When the boy’s interest in the pinball machines wanes, I take him for a walk outside. We find a playground a block away and he trots on ahead.
It has become so warm that we are all shedding layers. On the bench where I sit to watch my son climb the rock wall, there is a pile of discarded sweatshirts and jackets. The children throw themselves at the play structures – all limbs and flushed cheeks. Parents hover near the fence and by the steps to the slide, watching for any signs of distress, poised – acknowledging, perhaps that the sudden heat is bound to make us all a little reckless.