There are things that I would step into the depths of hell for. Some of them are alive and some of them are dead. Some are in the past and some are part of a future I wish I had ahead of me. Some are dreams, and a few are realities. Some are memories and some are wishes. I was eleven years old I first tried to take a snapshot with my mind’s eye. I stood on the top of a schoolyard concrete staircase, with a group of my friends. The railings were painted white and peeling. The stairs were too high for my little legs. My friends barely tolerated me, in fact they were not really friends at all. I was not a popular child. I was strange and distant and encased in my own world due to my miserable life at home, but for once, for once I was invited to stand on the staircase and talk with the popular girls, and for once they were not bullying me. I shut my eyes for a second, like the shutter of a camera, blinking a few times to make sure I had it fixed in my memory, and that moment when I opened my eyes remained frozen and fresh in time. It was pickled in eternal aspic. Frozen in the ice of time. Sparkling in a jar full of moonbeams and fireflies. It was a moment of happiness in a whole sea of misery.
A snowy day in the middle of a Tokyo winter, my baby missing from my arms because she was in NICU, but it felt as if the wind and the snow was greeting her to this world and showing her the beauty that can be even in the darkest and coldest of times. It was pristine, new and perfect, just like her, as her lungs struggled and she fought to survive her early birth due to her father’s violence upon us. My little symbiote-child fighting to stay with the mother she needed so badly and who needed her like air, like water, like snow on an early December day.
A midsummer’s day in Tokyo Disneyland, on Tom Sawyer’s Island, running down pathways towards Disney Teepees and imagineered pioneer forts, over barrel-bridges and past the fragrant plants that wound their scent around the mosquito-less day. Free. Wild little things, free for the day from the harshness of their father’s abuse of us all. Three mousekateers. Her little blue Minnie Mouse headband with a tiny veil fluttering over her long long hair perched up on her sweet head, and her baby brother in Donald Duck shorts and a tee shirt stained with ice cream and orange juice. Sweet whipped cream days and hamburger evenings. Snap! Click! Frozen…but not with a single photo to prove it ever happened.
Standing on a large crossing in Tokyo near my apartment, having decided that I was going to run to my friend in the USA and try to save my life after the night that Mr. Charming smashed all the windows around me and almost killed me, and I had to wander the Tokyo streets all night with two children and no money and nowhere safe to go. I blinked my eyes and imagined opening them again in a new life across the ocean. When I was standing in Los Angeles, with my friend and a camper van and both my children, I blinked my eyes and remembered standing on the crossroads, cut up and bruised and broken and terrified for my life. I remembered him telling me I would die and he would say ‘sorry’ and that he had too much stress and work and he would not do a day in jail. Like splicing tape I cut the bit from the middle and enjoyed closing my eyes in Tokyo and opening them in California, seeing my children draw circles in the sand as the coyotes howled in the distance and the campfire blazed.
Blink. Snap. San Francisco Embarcadero with my Boy, walking eating gluten-free cinnamon rolls and drinking tea from flasks. Strolling round zoos and gardens. Finally being alone together, safely in our sweet little apartment in the bad part of town. Heaven.
Sitting up at 2am with the boy, chatting on my bed as we watch a movie and talk about the things that matter and make us laugh. We have such an easy relationship. It is so full of joy. I hope he knows how to take mind-photos too, and freeze those happy memories for later use in sad days to come. How I long for him to know no more sadness. How I long for me not to be the cause of it.
I have dreams of future snapshots that will probably never come. A published book. A little success. A house in northern California with a sweet little scruffy terrier and a vegetable garden. Seeing my grandchildren to come. Watching my son marry. Seeing him thrive. Sitting in a campground the oldest of the generations before me, with a can of banana cream soda and my sunglasses on watching the children play by a lake, as the Grateful Dead play a happy tune.
I get to go see the final show that the Dead & Company will ever play, as what is left of the house-band of San Francisco. I nervously watch my health hoping I will be well enough to go. Every single day, every blink of the eye is precious.
Frozen. Preserved. Perfect. Happy. Well. Dancing in the sandstorm of time that is rapidly eating me up leaving only bleached bones to spit out in the desert of my life.