I have read Oh the Places You’ll Go to many children and every time I get caught up in the swoop of excitement while simultaneously sensing Dr. Seuss’s warning as he describes the thrills and troubles that the future holds. The book’s message has always been one I am very passionate about. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve thought while talking to children about their future, Oh, the wonders and mysteries that are ahead of you!
Only now, it is time for me to go on to my next adventure. I will be traveling to two places, one that is new and one that is familiar to me. In my life I have moved from Southern California to Central Coast to Boston and now onto Bali, Indonesia before returning to my native southern California. Leaving Boston was difficult as it meant saying goodbye to the many families that loved and supported me in lieu of my own, but nothing was as difficult as saying goodbye to Pearl. I can’t even begin to explain the heartbreak of leaving a child you loved and took care of, and honestly I don’t want to. It’s too painful. All I want to say is this:
My little Pearl, if you could only know how much I adore you, think of you, and pray for what is best for you in all things
It is difficult to write about it even now from an airport in Taiwan. Leaving all the children that I once cared for in Boston was far harder than leaving the adults who I know understand and will more or less be the same when I return. The children however will be different and are forgetful of the relationship we once shared. But I don’t regret a minute of loving and caring for any one of those children and I cherish my memories with them.
What I want to say to you, dear reader, is thank you for following us along on this too short journey, for offering sage advice and for laughing at our silly escapades from building robots to putting tape on everything to watching Pearl make her very first best friend. It was delightful sharing it all with you and I wish I had started documenting it sooner.
I will continue to update the blog but it will be sorely missing Pearl’s delightful face and hilarious quips, as I will be focusing on my journey pursuing new writing endeavors in a more orthodox career path. But before that I will be writing about my experiences in the next month as I spend them in Bali.
About a year ago ago I wrote a flash fiction piece that was accepted for publication. Unfortunately the magazine ran into some money troubles and closed before the story could be published so instead I will share it here as it seems to be the appropriate time. But if you don’t go on to read it, thank you anyway for joining me in watching Pearl blossom.
I take care of children. Most of them are too young for memories. Their brains are still growing saplings and there isn’t enough storage for me. Like a skeleton home of wooden frames and no walls, there is no shelter for me there. I am a phantom. A flicker that can only exist in their active memory: a singer of folk songs, a protector, a jokester, a provider of sustenance.
I don’t know the exact moment I was bestowed with this magical power to soothe children as if they were spun like gold from my very own womb. I believe it is a gift passed down from woman to woman to woman to woman to woman, and after thousands of years the one Mother who possesses all female strength and love finally breathed it on me in my sleep. Because even the tempests, the colic and ornery, melt when I sing in their ears like sirens to Odysseus.
When I leave one family to work for another, I usually go back to visit so the children remember. But the erosion begins the minute I leave. At first, I am a girl they recognize by face, but can’t name. My smile might rouse some warmth in the root of their stomachs. But even the tallest sea cliff is whittled down by the persistence of wind and wild salt. I am no sea cliff.
Even as I hold their shapeless, rotund bodies in my arms, singing them to Dreamland, I know that eventually I will shrivel into a filament so thin that I will blend into the ephemera of new life. A certain shade of green. A bauble of sound. Tiny specks of dust in the filtered bedroom light.
So I cast a spell upon the children.
Someday they will hear the words of a song and think I know this. I’ve heard it before. But they won’t know where. Their mothers won’t know what they’re talking about, distracted by a peripheral, urgent task. I will live again as that tiny feeling creeping in the back of their mind that someone once sang to them of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
As they age, grow limbs, minds, and wounds, they will eventually get a crush on some teenager with eyes the exact shade as mine and they will think, There’s something familiar about them, something that makes me feel safe. Warm. Loved.
When they are old and stretched out, when their bones are not the starfish arms they are now but driftwood, when their skin is weathered and aged like dried rose petals and life is long behind them instead of in front, they will dream of me: a faceless person who once plucked them, swinging and shimmering and lifting them up, until we break like seashells and tumble backwards into an ever flowing tide.