“Things are better,” I told myself.
“But are they?” I wondered.
It would seem sleep can never wipe away the bad questions from yesterday, so as I rose from my slumber today it felt like I hadn’t slept at all. My body ached from past defeats, and my soul wanted to crawl back under the covers, pull them up tight around my neck and hope this day to end mercifully.
Even solitude and the comfort of a warm doona could not protect me from my own mind, so I put my feet on the floor and knew I had to move. Dressed and determined, I walked as I do when there seems to be nothing else but counting steps.
I love the windy old road on the way to Alice’s, tree branches drape over it – each side reaching out to the other like hands coming together to hold each other. The sidewalk is bumpy and twisted, like my life I think.
With a block to go I heard her voice, not ahead but from behind, and as I turned I saw her pulling at her mother’s hand to go faster, “Johnson” she yelled out, and suddenly I was okay.
With a few feet to go her mother released her hand and she moved to me – her eyes as big saucers – her arms stretched forward to reach me before she did. I picked her up and swung her around as she started a conversation that we never end.
“Johnson, have you been cold? I have been so cold that I have to wear jumpers every day and sometimes inside” she said excitedly, and the added, “I like jumpers, this one has horses.”
I had forgotten how everything is bigger when you are smaller, and as she talked, she pointed those tiny little fingers to a pony that was on the pattern of the jumper she wore. She looked up, and from beneath her thick glasses she smiled and giggled. I think these are the times when old friends become new again, refreshed by the memories of gentle mercies shared in joy.
We walked the 3 of us to their home as I was invited in for tea and talk, and perhaps a dance. Warm tea and hot scones with good friends on a winter’s day, a recipe I think was invented in heaven. We sat and laughed, talked and convened a meeting of great minds that came from the idyllic views of the young and innocent, and here with Alice sometimes I am young again.
“How is our book Johnson, does it have Trolls,” she asked with a smile.
I am sure I looked forlorn as I replied to her and her mother who sat with us “some days it’s hard to write Alice, some days I just don’t think I am good enough.”
With that, her laughing demeanor became serious, not critical, but she put her hand to her chin as if she was thinking great thoughts about my dilemma. And then as I thought I had popped the last balloon at the party she stood up and came closer and placed a hand on my shoulder as I sat.
“Johnson, when I was little,” she said – and as she did her Mother and I looked quickly at each other and shared a smile. She kept going “When I was little, I couldn’t dance – and sometimes I thought, I will never be a dancer.”
With an, even more, intent look, she leaned forward, but now with her hands turned up to make an even greater point as she added: “But Johnson, I wanted to dance, so I did – and now I can, I am a dancer.”
We smiled and nodded and drank more tea, and today I had an extra scone. I was reminded again, my tiny Guru is much brighter than me. And then, we decided to dance.
As I lifted her in my arms and readied to swing her about she whispered to me “Johnson yesterday you were little, today you aren’t,” and with that, I danced because I am a dancer.
Yesterday I wondered if I am a writer, and today I am – because I am no longer little.
Thank you, Alice, thank you…