Our Town


Inspired by Terry Teachout’s incredible piece on (among other topics) Our Town, and by a moment in the post office the other day.

It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. […] Wait! One more look. Good-bye, Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it — every, every minute?

My sons grow whenever I turn my back.  That lanky boy who will turn five in two weeks once lived inside my body.  I obsessed over his nose in the sonogram because I’d never seen a more gorgeous nose.  I still haven’t.  He’s not much into hugs and kisses these days, and I feel like I’m all full, stopped up with ungiven hugs and kisses.  I was at the post office the other day and remembered how he used to come with me, and climb up on the counter, and pull on the pen on a chain.  I remember the shape of his jaw at a certain angle, a view of him I’m the only one who could possibly see clearly.  Today I had another errand at the post office and asked him if he wanted to come.  His reply: “Speaking of the post office, it’s not very exciting.”  I went alone, shouting as I ran out the door, “I love you people!”

That busy toddler who lives in my house slipped out of my body while the doctors were sharpening their knives.  He was so tiny I could rest his entire form on my belly, and often did.  Tonight we did a family pile-up (long-suffering daddy on the bottom) and arms and legs were flying everywhere.  The little one walks from room to room, rearranging shoes, books, and toys.  Of course that dinosaur belongs in the kitchen.  Someday he’ll be paid great money to decorate sets because he knows exactly where to put the triceratops.

I’m with them all the time; how can they be so mysterious?  We live in the same house; how can they be so far from me already?

I see pictures of babies and I wonder what became of mine.


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