At home, alone, curled like an infant in the womb, I am neither awake or asleep, but rather, floating in the liminal space between. Resting with my cheek on the satin pillow, my face turned toward the whirring blades of the fan, I startle to the realization that I don’t know where I am.
More puzzled than afraid, my mind instantly sends tentacles out to explore the possibilities concealed in what seems like a peculiar slice of collapsing time: I'm a baby sleeping on a purple couch; I’m a child in the green bedroom on Atlanta Road; I’m a teenager in the antique brass bed on Ditman Lane; I’m the lonely young woman under the window fan in an Atlanta apartment house.
I shuffle through alternative scenarios, with the sense of being both a participant and observer, hurtling toward some kind of vortex. I’m still not afraid. I wonder why.
Suddenly, without warning, I snap back. Ah! I know where I am. I’m at home in this good old house in the woods, the one where I live with my good husband, and where we raised our two good sons.
Now I open my eyes. I see the air purifier glowing with its blue and red lights next to Chica’s crate. I recognize the familiar sensation of the satin pillowcase against my cheek.
I not only know where I am; I know exactly who I am; I am the old woman none of my younger selves could have imagined. But, paradoxically, I’m still all those younger selves too.
Like a set of Russian nesting dolls, my psyche contains the infant on the couch, the child in the green room, the teenager in the brass bed, the searching young woman in the Atlanta apartment and a host of other transient personas.
But now, I am also the contented old woman who, at long last, has managed to make friends with all of her past selves. It’s been a long journey.