Backbends

It’s Friday. The rush of the week expels from the lungs of life in one exhaled swoosh. Two full, pregnant days of nothing ready to birth into the world, crack and break into existence with eyes wide in the brisk early spring air. When 5 o’clock rolls around, we rejoice. An evening ahead of loud, rambunctious laughter, walks along the city lights under skyscrapers, a feeling of belonging and relationships soft and sweet over dinner, over honest conversation and knitting of souls in solidarity.

All I can think of is the small, white washed home converted into a restaurant just off the main road back home. Once a haven for the Underground Railroad, its pressed, wooden walls woven in maze of yellow light, tables pressed close together, murmurs of voices hovering just below the ceiling. Fresh fish piled on platters, cod and halibut and perch, freshly caught, crispy fried that lead to a soft, crumbling flesh of meat that dissolves in your mouth.

And twilight, a deeply bruised sky pulling its cloak over the day. Tall pines in the back of the tiny parking lot, scratching their way into the air. Getting out of the car, careful not to nick the SUV closely parked next to us. Mom and I, stepping up the ramp and into the tight, warm hallway to pick up our fish fry.

Warmth of activity, of people with their people, and I, heart bending in the bustle, because I was one of them tonight—with my people. Known, loved, familiar. The backbends of my world memorized by years of tracing the same patterns of flight over and over and over. A well-worn path around this community.

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I was home, the rich, honeyed heart of love dripping down my head like anointing. In the bustle of the restaurant, glasses clinking and catching stares of strangers, I stood a head taller than my mom but nestled close, wrapped up in an emotional tie that took me to the small street of my childhood, of hope and harmony and the fresh glass sheen of Lake Michigan minutes down the way.

It’s Friday and I am thinking of the square peg of a window that spills temped light on the walkway in the face of freedom from responsibility and acting in a place that seems to be a perfect fit for everyone but me. With deliriously vast options how to spend my time, I’m thinking of fish and an old asphalt parking lot. I have life to myself for a few days, and I crave that shadowed, sapphire silence in the blanket of home. I crave those who know me inside out, those with whom I do not need to pretend.

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