I always ask my mother to tell me the same story every time. And each time, just like the times before, she uses the same words, with the same tones, which in turn, give me the same imagery and the same butterflies in my tummy.
I think I'm ready to share this story with you.
Better late than never...
Mum talks about a period in my childhood that I sometimes choose to block out. Not because it was traumatic or tragic, but simply because it reminds me of simpler times, that I sometimes wish I could revisit.
"Do you remember the grill gate at our old house?" she says, with a look that means she's on autopilot. Mum has told me this story many times over the years. Those words unlock the portal to my memory bank.
"The big metal one in front of the main door, remember?" she says, smiling.
"Yea, I do," I say, already knowing how the story ends, but willing her to go on.
"Well, for years as a baby, you would stand at that gate and look out at the world. You would stare, bug-eyed, at all that was happening outside it, but never once would you try to venture out past it," she says; the memory of those moments, transporting her back in time with me.
"How come?" I ask. This is our game... I egg her on, and she willingly complies.
"Well, I was never sure. You even grew tall enough to reach the latch, but you'd never once thought to open it back then, and run out. The neighbour's children and your brother would be out playing, and you would simply stand there and watch... in awe. You were quite the observer."
"When did it all change?" I ask, with a smile. This is my favourite part.
"Well, after years of watching and observing all that was around you, one day you decided it was time. Your little hand reached up for the metal latch, opened the door and you took one step out... then another... and another... until you were far enough away from the door, but close enough that you could come running back if you needed to," she says, laughing. This part always makes her laugh. "I'm not sure why you were so scared.... but I knew."
"What did you know?"
"I knew that once you were out those doors, the world was your playground," she says, with a beautiful smile brightening the lines on her face that I've come to respect and admire so much. "And as usual, I was right."
"Yea. It's the story of your life, you know?" she says. Her face always turns serious at this part. "All your life, through all your pivotal experiences, you've waited and watched as others around you move and shift. You stay still and wait your turn... but when you feel you're ready, there's no turning back."
I love the comfort and silence at this break.
"It takes you longer than others to make choices, S, but you always make them when you're ready. You come around in your own time, and on your own terms. That experience of the grill gate reminds me of the fact that you've been this way since you were a child," she says. "And you've never proven me wrong."
Mum, I suppose you're right, and funny enough, I do remember it all. It simply helps to be reminded sometimes.
Thank you for observing me while I observed. And thank you now, for watching me while I play. But most of all, thank you for always encouraging me back up, when I fall down during the games.