I have stood here on the outside, looking at this house for my whole life, watching as the bougainvilleas bloom. Strangers have tried to move me but I have remained. My roots dig deep into the earth, slithering to the deepest, darkest soil and I hide there. Hiding in this garden, I disguise myself as a hummingbird harvesting, a lazy cat sleeping under the aloe vera plants. I’m not sure what makes today different, but today, I am ready to pull myself out of the dirt.
Shuffling my feet closer to front gate, I work my hands over the shabby wooden fence and unlatch the lock that was meant to keep me out. My footsteps leave impressions on the rust-colored, sandy path as I make my way to the lush landscape. Being braver than I, my shadow grows closer to the entrance.
“I can hear it sighing.” My shadows speaks to me.
I lend my ear to listen to the wood beams stretching and expanding. These beams create the skeleton of this adobe home, and arches curve and mimic the hills that surrounds it. It is known that this old home had once traveled great distances; moving through waters deep and frightening to deserts scarce and punishing. Finally it sits here to rest, here in the belly of three treacherous mountains, to never to get up again.
While this ancient nomad slumbers, it has become a host to the overgrown bushes and scarlet bougainvilleas that weave and toss in the breeze.
These vines wander aimlessly up the faded red walls like quivering snakes, rattling the prickly-pear-stained petals off the stem and onto the sandy porch. They take the wind that carries them, rolling down the wooden steps, fluttering across the path and swiftly find rest at my brown, bare feet.
The bougainvilleas invite me inside, dancing and laughing. My dress grabs hold of a soft breeze and I allow myself to feel the wind on my face like a gentle hand; I lean into the warmth and dance. I dance in step with the petals that have outgrown their roots like I have outgrown my own.
My black hair surrounds me, long and untamed, wrapping and whipping around my face mimicking rays of a darker sun. I am shaped of red clay, with the face of a strong woman, with a crown of rays made of shimmering, jagged, black obsidian.
“I wonder if I share the same face of the women that stood here before me?”
If when they searched for their reflection, if they saw these brown hues and earth tones and felt what I feel now.
You see, I carry with me this vision of falling. I fall endlessly through lapis lazuli and once finally seeing the hues of the earth, I prepare for the crash with the earth’s surface. And to my surprise, I melt right into its browns and yellows, as if my skin, painted with the shades of the olive and cocoa from generations long lost, can unlock my fate like a golden compass. If I gravitate around the sun I can always find my way back here.
I pause to stand in the sun, and it sits enthroned in the lowest point of the sky. I want to become this eternal sunset so I drink. I drink to become drunk on this stream of glittering sunshine. Closing my eyes, I follow the sensation of warmth traveling through my body and my mind wanders to the times when my feet were smaller and my shoulders less weighted with the woes of passing time.
Tiny hands, digging into the mud of the earth and praying to ants, leaves, and birds–other small things that could feel my touch, to turn me into anything. Whispering to palo verde beetles and moths that I caught in my hands “Make me small like you.”
I feel the weight of all small things because I was a small thing. I still am a small thing.
I have spent 24 years outside God’s house while the door was left open. Every morning and every night I stood just fantasizing about going inside this house; never making a move forward, choosing to sit at the table of another, for the temptation to drown in nostalgia. This allows me to time-travel to fly away.
I am standing in front of the rounded wooden door, allowing the eternal sunshine to warm my spine. I am ready to step inside. So I lower myself to my knees, because I too am weary from traveling and I want to rest here with this old house.
It took 24 steps to get up to the shadow of wooden columns that hold up this old house. It took 24 songs to sing to the dragonflies before they blessed me with kisses from their wings made of glitter. It took 24 buckets of salty tears to be collected and poured back into the ocean as payment for how I have hurt myself. I sought out directions to ask 24 monarch butterflies so I would not stray off the path leading to the shoreline.
Now here I am at the doorstep, and before I go inside, I am going to sit on the front porch, in a rocking chair that has the initials of every woman in my family tree. I am going to sit with them for a while…just to know what kind of woman I need to be to walk into this house.