It is April. Spring. My birthday month.
My students ask “How old are you really?” as if I might not tell them the truth.
The truth it seems no longer has a number. Not a really number. The years now get mixed up with memories and dreams and visions.
Really, I am every age.
I see a small child in the arms of her mother at school. She grabs my finger and smiles. For a moment, it is twelve years ago and I am weaving through the baby days. Park. Sidewalks. Nap time. Snuggles. Snack. Sidewalks. Park. Dinner. Then, I am a grandmother with my granddaughter in my future arms, being aware of the solid body, the sweet smell, the joy of the giggle.
Standing under fragrant lilac trees, I am twenty-five. I walk around various city neighbourhoods inhaling spring and wondering if one day, one neighbourhood will be mine. I am thirty-seven sitting in the afternoon sun under my own lilac tree, with pale lavender blooms. I watch my children drive toy trucks through the garden beds. I am seventy-two with time to collect and arrange blossoms in a vase placing it where I will notice it often as I move through my house in my daily routines.
I hang the laundry on the line on the first warm enough day I find. I am fourteen clipping my father’s work shirts to the line in the early morning air. Soon, I will collect them and iron them in the cool of the basement away from the summer sun that makes afternoons unbearable. I am forty hanging out still tiny socks wondering how my children are possibly old enough for school. I am old. Quiet and alert. I hang out tea towels in the early morning sun and listen for the cries from the hawks hoping they have nested again this year.
On my morning walk I smell the nearness of rain. I am eight running towards home, wondering if there will be a storm with lightening flashes to watch out the front windows. I am the mother of seven-year olds that I dropped to school without rain jackets. I watch the sky wondering if this rain will pass. I am forty-two sipping coffee in the beach house we rented, up before everyone, watching the water. I am seventy-one, sitting at the table noticing how the rain pulls the branches of our old pine tree further and further down. Everything looks so green in the rain.
How old am I really?
I am every age.
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