A long time ago when my husband and I made music together, we wrote an album that we titled 'From the Start Line'. At the time when I wrote those words, I was describing that feeling of returning to something anew, of things being both old and new, of times past and present and of these things existing in tandem, all at once, all jumbled. Perhaps at the time it meant something different since memory is an ever growing, ever changing being but somehow each year as summer fades into the background and grey skies arrive with a chill in the air, as autumn rears her head, it is these words that I see her brandishing. They bob along held in the grey clouds and find their way back to me.
I feel myself readying for a race. It is a race which is very much me against me and I think I feel differently all of the time about taking myself on. It makes sense to me, seen as the summer weeks are ones of rest, weeks in which we as a family have lots of time to spend with one another, weeks in which we learn to exist alongside one another without breaks, weeks in which we enjoy the perks of having a husband and a father who works in education which means the four of us have an entire summer together. This does not come without its challenges of course, especially as the house we live in becomes smaller and smaller by the day and the pockets of space become taken up by our offsprings equally enthusiastic acquisition of books and cd's and stones and drawings and keepsakes, habits that I see both parents and children mirroring. I found myself squeezing into small spaces around the house in search of quiet and mentally I discovered I was able to crawl into drawers and bury my thoughts in the softness of this space. So there was both quiet and fullness, togetherness and blissful solitariness with each family member understanding the need for each and every one of these, although perhaps this understanding had its degrees of clarity at different times.
One of the things that I think about even before summer has reached its end, is how much I will look back upon the time spent together. When time is more sparse, more precious and when it I can glance back and truly savour those weeks together, reliving both happy and fraught times. It is both utterly satisfying, utterly melancholic of me and I feed from this greedily in the darker, colder days and the darker, colder times. Often in these moments of reflection, I think of my mother and I hear her familiar notes. The ones that have played on my soundtrack forever and ever, the ones that I can name instantly, the ones that play quietly and those that scream at the top of their voice. They say things like, 'try your best, that's all you can do and all I expect', 'you'll get there in the end', 'you'll be the death of me' said with bright eyes and proud beaming crow's feet. I think of all that is passed down, through DNA, through experience, through the soul, through instinct. I think of the many that have gone before me, especially the women. I think of how I am catching up with them. I was thinking all of these thoughts as I walked the many corridors of the secondary school that my eldest boy and I were touring around this morning. Thinking of the ten years that he and I have shared, thinking of this boy who made me a mother and one of 'those' women, just like the ones that came before me. That's when I hear more of those notes and this one says 'money doesn't grow on trees you know', just like my mother told my siblings and I all those years ago and out of the clouds I hear my voice with undulating form and I say the words 'neither does time my friend, neither does time'. I carry on looking at the clouds doubting my good ear and that's when I see her. I see me. I am marking a line in the clouds and my finger is thick with marshmallow like fluff and when I can see both the start and the finish of the line, I know I am ready. I take one more glance at that finger and the fluff has disappeared into thin air and then quickly after, so do I.