I am struck by two friends I couldn’t capture in this photo, washed out by exposure, soaked in sun, while I stand between trees with my camera. Maybe you can see the red of her shirt, the gray of her pants, even if you can’t see the whole of their friendship.
As we settle into our new home, I try new ways of being outside of the city. I talk to strangers. I make phone calls. I take the long route. I don’t crush the spiders that come into our house with Tyler’s shoe. I send paper towels under their shifting legs, their very own Bounty select-a-size red carpet. I carry them to the side door and set them free.
The other night, I wished I was in Brooklyn meeting a friend for a drink. I wished I was walking, in the dark, from the subway to our third floor walkup, passing the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, whose steeple was a marker of home.
Here, the markers vanish. Our neighbors had set out old furniture for weeks to be picked up by the garbage truck. Yesterday, it was gone and I drove right past our house, because I don’t know my own home in relation to anything else.
I figure, if I need to walk, and I need to walk, and if I can’t walk sidewalks, and I can’t walk sidewalks, not here…then I’ll walk hills. I’ll send myself into forests, into tall trees, where there aren’t any people anyway. I take my camera and my backpack with the gaping hole that needs to be patched. I take a water bottle that Little O calls mine, as in his. I set a timer as I walk off into the woods because I have to be at the daycare at 3pm and it takes twenty minutes, I think, to get there, so I can only walk half as long as it will take to get back to twenty minutes before.
When I reach a clearing, I see enormous wings. A blue heron taking flight. I gasp, out loud, because I’ve only seen a heron standing, stark, and I’ve never seen one fly. I turn to the empty space on either side of me and feel my camera, heavy, at my neck. Because, it turns out, there are great birds here, and there are people, anyway. There’s a great bird and two friends I can not capture and take with me on the memory card of a digital camera. My word and a blur are all anyone else can have.
The other day, after I had saved too many spiders to count, another bug flew and landed on the living room wall, which is bare because we haven’t hung any wall fixtures anywhere yet. I knew what it was, immediately, and I ran to it, fast, cupped it in my hands as quick as I could. Tyler, who has never before seen me run toward an insect instead of away, wondered what I was doing. It’s a firefly, I said. I opened the door and let it go into the night.
There are some things, I guess, that the city doesn’t take away from you. There are some things from a suburban childhood you do not forget.