In the mornings, I would hear my grandmother brewing her coffee. The fog had settled close to the grass, and the dew kissed our windows with a sort of plea; the warmth we carried inside was worthy of lust, I suppose, to the mist. I would bolt out of bed as fast as I could, because somehow I felt that it made the greeting of the cold air easier. The room smelled like the rest of the house, like an antique. Not the musky, dirty kind, but the regal, “this is what home smells like,” kind. It was only 7 am, but I was well-rested and refreshed, an effect that everyone felt when they slept at my grandma and papa’s house.
I would slip on my socks and sneak out into the hallway, trying to keep the floors from creaking so that I could watch actions unravel without being seen. My grandmother’s hands would be embracing her warm mug, and she would be tiptoeing in the graceful manner that only my grandmother could, to the couch. Her lips pressed so delicately against the ceramic, her eyes slightly closing just as the liquid would sting her tongue. I remember the pattern of her breathing, how her head would turn ever so slightly toward the window, how her drinking coffee was like a ballet. I grew up believing my grandmother never made an unintentional move; everything was planned and calculated with her, and her stage did not allow for error. Which, really, is very sad if you think long enough about it.
Midway through her coffee, she would finally see me standing in the shadows of the hallway, and motion me to sit down next to her. There was no smile, no words of “Good morning,” only the tiny sips of her steaming coffee. Her troubles seemed to be solved in this way.
When the fog began to lift, and the sun made his debut, I would slip on my papa’s jacket and some rain boots three sizes too big, and would run outside to the garage. The air danced through my nose into my veins, creating a symphony of Spring inside of me. I grabbed the old bike, dusted off the cobwebs, and rode down the gravel driveway to the road, aptly named after my grandparent’s, Brush Trail.
It was an abandoned road, one where moss had grown up through the cracks, one that saw little traffic anymore. I would ride my rusty bike over its bumpy surface, while getting lost in the view of its neighboring trees. For a few moments, nothing else existed. I was surrounded by mountains and silence, I could hear my heart beating along with the thumps of my flat tire. I knew very little of what life had in store for me, back then. All I really knew, in fact, was how to catch salamanders and how to build forts out of fallen tree branches and how to get stung by bees on my crotch.
Eventually, though, my grandmother’s hair turned grey and I stopped trying to hide in the hallway to watch her morning routine. Actually, I stopped visiting the house altogether. I had better things to do, you know, as a teenager. Years passed, and so did the fog dancing around the windows. When I finally did return, a few weeks before they were to leave the house forever, I was too late. I rode down that old road, but the trees did not speak back. My heart no longer danced with the tires. And as I ran through the forest, sobbing over the goodbye, I fell at the foot of an old tree.
I would never again smell the antique Spring. I would never again see my grandmother as she was, the ballerina. Soon, everything would change. The setting, the people. Sometimes we grow together, but sometimes we grow apart.
But in this moment, I will close my eyes and pretend to feel the cold wind on my face as I ride that old rusty bike down that abandoned Brush Trail. And I will remember how free I once was, if only for a moment.