the universe wobbles

Toney River - Kate asleep.jpg

A day at a beach. Running, running, running. A sun-heated towel. A chair. Bleached, salty. Someone wakes me up when it's time for supper. Then someone puts me into a warm bath, and gives me clean jammies, and reads to me, and tucks me in. And then I sleep, unaware of cancer and credit cards. Someone wakes me up when it's time for breakfast.

I wanna be big. Don't rush it, little girl. Just run.


I have a scar now. And skin that's just... well. I am the same but suddenly, neurosurgeons and astronauts and nuclear physicists have grown younger. But this is no phenomenon. My universe need not wobble.

I feel no different, only better, except for the mousiness. But then I'm driving in the city through the campus and I look out the window slack-jawed and think to myself OH MY GOD these kids can't possibly be at university and I realize that I just called university kids 'kids' and I think about that, frowning, for the following six traffic lights.

Then a 22-year-old comes to stay and we're talking about movies and she says When was that made? and I say I dunno... 1989? and she humphs adorably and says I was in grade two in 1989 and my head turns into a looping time-lapse of a wilting flower.

A friend of mine is 44. Several friends. And the 22 year-old in me goes OMG that's, like, OMG. ANCIENT. Catching-Flies-With-Chopsticks Ancient. Apple-Doll Ancient. Can't-Possibly-Be-Relevant-In-My-Life-Except-For-Financial-Advice kind of Ancient.

I say to the 22-year-old You're half my age and she goes no way. But she is. Kind of. I've got friends who are 44 and they're totally cool and they are totally 44. And they're my friends and my peers and she's 22, and all of a sudden it's not just her own individual elasticity. It's my lack of it.

Do I care? I don't know. An early-twenties cousin looks at me and I know what she sees. A mom. An older woman. There's a faint dismissal that's not her intention, but it's there. It's a lack of interestingness that makes my head go But... but... but... Then I look down. I have someone else's jammies in my arms.


You spend the first half of your life waiting for your life to begin. Then someone says Happy birthday! You're halfway to seventy and parents become grandparents and we all shuffle ahead one chair and then I'm lying there at night convincing myself I wouldn't want to be 22 again anyway. Except for my ass.


Kate Inglis77 Comments