Clear winter afternoons remind me of my mother. We used to go for hikes in the canyons and she’d be bundled up under a red hat and a scarf and a jean jacket. The image is burned in my brain. You’ll never find a woman like my mother, the way she smiled. Her blue eyes judgeless and wrinkled at the edges because she’s been smiling her whole life. The kind of woman whose skin tells stories. Sun spots and scars. She conceived my brother under summer skies after hiking the Camino De Santiago for an entire day. She gave birth to me in her own apartment. Raised us both as a single mother and pioneered a theatre troupe while freelancing as a communication therapist. We used to travel to Bordeaux by the overnight train and took a ferry to Soulac-sur-Mer to visit my grandparents. The saltwater prickled in my nose while I stood against the metal railing overlooking the ocean. My grandparents had spare bikes for us in their garage and the clearest memory I’ll ever have is the smell of sand and ocean in that muggy storage chamber. Later they’d remodel it into a sunroom, but it doesn’t matter because the garage will always exist in my head. We always biked, my mother and brother and I. Always, everywhere. The three of us experienced a lot together. I love them both enough to make my throat feel like it’s closing in on itself.
We moved to America and we branched out. Language will change people. My brother moved out of state and my mother moved out of the country and I’m still here, sorting through fragmented experiences because the canyons crowd me with them. Towards the end I was with either one or the other, but we were always in the canyons. In a way, every red rock clasped to the soles of my shoes tied the three of us together. It’s going to be hard to leave this place.
photo credit: KOLCHphotography