I travelled the land of tween-dom over 30 years ago. The roads were rough. Raw and tender, full of emotion. Details from junior high are impressed like a collage. White Ked sneakers, Hostess Ding Dongs at recess, and origami folded notes on lined paper, passed in the hallway between classes. The metallic clang of locker doors slamming. The beating of my heart as Whitney Houston warbled over cafeteria speakers. The hope that one boy would ask me to dance, the fear that different boy just might. The 45 single of Ah-ha’s “Take on Me” spinning on the record player in my room. The hot scent of a curling iron in the bathroom. My first frosted pink lipstick from Long’s Drug store.
Now at 43, I’m driving a hybrid station wagon with three post-school-day 12-year old boys. Backpacks are heavy, piled next to water bottles rolling with soccer balls in the back. Their bodies, damp and sweaty, have shed the morning’s excessive application of Axe or Old Spice deodorant. Hands are now free to pull out smart phones and swipe through text messages between friends. No more paper notes in penciled scrawl. That’s so 1900’s.
I’m so out of my element. I lived this age once, but everything is different now.
I contemplate the streets of Prague. The foreign territory I explored last year was so completely different from the place that I call home. Yet, in spite of another language, and the street signs I couldn’t read, the roads seemed easily familiar. There was comfort in ancient brick and mortar. Something solid that could hold me. Architecture held a promise that it wasn’t fleeting. Despite the time, this would stay.
This is mural art displayed on the interior wall of the garage at the Bohemian’s home in the Moravia region of the Czech Republic. In this country, structure is art. There is no separation. This gigantic etching is just another ‘of-course’ in Czech life. A formidable work existing as simple backdrop behind ladders, bicycles and storage bins.
It is not the work of a family member, rather, a stamp left behind by a regional artist that I believe was the original owner of the home. The Bohemian’s family has been in this house for decades, moving back and forth beneath this mural, entering and exiting the nearby front door for more than twenty years.
I wonder what this massive piece is about. There is no one to tell me what it means.
The symbology of horses, born wild and tamed by humans. Have these two been domesticated? The dark horse and the white one, head to head, rearing, as if to…fight? Or meet?
I think of the Bohemian and his twin brother, delivered with only minutes of life between them. Both boys grew. One went West, the other stayed in the East. I reflect on the rituals of fathers and sons, wrestling through a lineage.
Strength. Power. Good. Evil. The duel of duals.The dichotomy within us all.
That tree-lined path between, seeming to lead home.
At 5:43am in late September, the ceiling fan setting can be adjusted. Moved from 3 to 2, as there is the most subtle hint of cooler air mingling with the salted mist that stirs from distant surf. Hawaii’s colder months bring bigger waves to the north shore of the Garden Island. Socks are dug out from the back of dresser drawers. Closed toe shoes become a consideration, but only after wiping down a film of moldy green that has grown on their surface in the moist air, which even a closet cannot buffer against.
On any given day in Autumn, a visitor to this place will most likely only see a land of endless summer, as the sun shines its constant, warming spotlight on the set. But after living through a multitude of this land’s cycled seasons, I see the slightest hints that whisper change. Spy a slant of light that angles lower, more golden hues. Feel grass blades beneath bare soles, just a few degrees cooler than in July.
I long for this shift. Scan the sea for sprays of annual Humpback visitors. Fluff the must from my small stash of sweaters. Start imagining steaming pots of soup.
I ponder windows and doorways. Gateways between. Opened or closed. Locked or unhinged. Passages inviting our own perceptions.