First set your feet firm. Grasp the steel curves in your hands and get ready to push. Push hard! Legs pumping pumping pumping as you run fast, faster, fastest, around and around and around! Just when you’re about to be swept off your feet jump up! Up! You made it. You’ve earned your moment, your ride. Lay back, close your eyes and spin. The Merry-Go-Round.
Open your eyes and you’re just where you were, of course. Or are you?
Outside the big sunflowers turn and turn, their faces following the sun. It’s late afternoon and I’m staring out the big picture window, the one shielded by a thick opaque yellow shade. It’s has a tiny tear, proudly, neatly scotch taped together. The rays feel so hot that they seem to melt through the window, sizzling the squares of carpet like toasted s’mores.
I ache to get a better look outside. But as I lift the thick vinyl shade the tiny tear tears a bit more. I should be sorry and stop but I can’t stop, I don’t stop at all. I love the feeling of the tear slicing upward, up and up. I can feel the power of the rip the in my little hands.
When it’s over, I can’t fix it. I am sorry, so sorry. Really I am.
My bow is bouncing through Leroy Anderson’s Fiddle Faddle, my fingers skittering over the strings of my violin like jackrabbits bounding through the woods. The notes scatter through the air with wild abandon, flying floating, fleeing every which way, everywhere at once. Can you keep up? Can you catch up? Let the notes grab you and hook you, and seep deep inside you. Oh! Come along with me. Together we can fly!
I am sitting across a restaurant table from a man in an elegantly cut suit, owlish glasses balanced on his nose, gentle, dreamy smile on his face. The man in the Arrow Shirt ads come to life. He has ordered a gin and tonic. I find myself ordering the same. He chuckles, I laugh. He leans back. I lean in. When he orders Mahi Mahi, for reasons unfathomable I squeal, dolphin like. Agh! Why oh why did I do it? But somehow he laughs sweetly and in turn I simply sigh. He thinks I like him. And I do.
On a Little League field, compact as a candy box, a tousle-haired boy bunts, then freight rains it for first. Safe! A blink and he steals second. A breath and then he steals third! A teasing tiptoe from third base. Do it! Come home!
With each spin of the Merry Go Round the memories swirl in my head.
One day, full of myself and of rhyme and before I know it, the joyful words cascade from my tongue:
“The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things. Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax— of cabbages — and kings—. And why the sea is boiling hot—and whether pigs have wings.”
—The Walrus and The Carpenter, Lewis Carroll
My son is nearby.
“I love that,” my son said wistfully. “You know it?” I said wonderingly. “Of course,” he replied. “You always recited it to us before bath time when we were small. We loved it. You remember.”
But I didn’t remember. I didn’t remember at all. I feel a rising panic in my chest. How could I have forgotten? Was I spinning too fast? What am I missing?
Whatever “quite myself is,” I haven’t been that at all lately. But somehow it has seemed more important than ever that I remember every single good thing that ever happened. To gather them all and keep them very close.
To forget even one, especially one that was so sweet and important to my boy, seemed a travesty, a tragedy of absurdist proportions. I hardly knew what to do, where to turn.
His voice is soft and just for me. “Of course it’s true, “he says. “And I remembered to remind you.”