The Side of the Road
I walked out in a field, the grass was high,
it brushed against my legs.
I just stood and looked out at the open space
and a farmhouse out a ways
And I wondered about the people who lived in it
And I wondered if they were happy and content
Were there children and a man and a wife?
Did she love him and take her hair down at night?
It was fifteen summers ago when I saw her from a car window. I was a too-young newlywed, driving somewhere along Nova Scotia's southern shore. I don't think my then-husband noticed her at all. We didn't slow down, and I didn't say anything. She was nearly completely un-noteworthy: a woman standing in the driveway of a ranch-style home, with children playing around her. The only thing at all remarkable was that she was still in her robe, and so it seemed that the driveway, set back only a little from the highway, was part of her intimate living space, and I was peeking in the window.
It's hard to say why that fleeting glimpse of her stayed with me all these many years. There was a graciousness and ease about the scene that captivated me. Something about the way she stood there in that robe that suggested life could be more fluid than I, preoccupied with making plans, could know.
She couldn't have seen me at all. A peripheral flash, sunlight bouncing off glass.
I've met her at last in this house. Though it is smaller by several hundred feet than our last, we occupy more of it, more fully, more fluidly. Where the rooms of the old house were a series of adjacent, unrelated boxes, the rooms here open up to each other so naturally, it is as if the house has its own current. We float along on it from one space to the next, from room to room, hall to hall, indoor to outdoor, like carnival ducks.
Bobbing home from the neighborhood pool this Saturday, me and my wet, tousled flock paddled through the mudroom, flip-flops flapping over the tile, towels flung over hooks. The littlest Who and I wriggled out of our swimsuits to rinse off in the master shower stall, then paraded barefoot (and one of us bare bummed) through Daddy's office to the kitchen to find something to eat on the patio. Around and around we go like that, day into night, night into day.
Mornings I pull on my red satin robe and step over toys to collect the newspaper from the front step. Sometimes a car passes, a glint of metal in the corner of my eye. It never slows down. I never look up.
But I always smile.