An old woman sits out on her deck, face drinking in the soft morning sun. A little pixie of a child – Her granddaughter? Her great-granddaughter perhaps? – sits on her lap, running nimble fingers through the old woman’s halo of curly hair. They smile at each other and lean in for butterfly kisses – eyelash to cheek, cheek to eyelash, tenderness to tenderness. ‘Tell me a story Gee-gee! Tell me a story!’ implores the little one. The old woman lets out an exaggerated sigh, but her eyes sparkle as she says ‘Let me guess, the one about the lost princess?’ ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ the little one squeals.
The old woman begins, as all good stories begin, with…
‘Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess…’
‘Tell it all Gee-gee, tell it all.’
‘OK poppet, I’ll tell it all.’
I watch these two, and I know that that old woman is me. She looks happy and healthy and surrounded by love, and she sits on the wings of a beautiful home.
I want to run to her and ask her ‘How does the story of the lost princess go? It’s the story of me, of us, isn’t it? What happens when the princess gets to 27 and 3/4? How does she make it through that bit? Does her inheritance come through in time for her to make the next credit card repayment? When does she find a part time job? Where? Where does she move to exactly? Who with? When does she meet her future husband? When are her body’s cries to be caressed, to be lovingly, thoroughly possessed, finally answered?’
‘When? How? Who?’ I want to beg of this old woman who clearly has all of the answers to these questions and even more – answers to questions I haven’t even thought of yet.
I want her to lay a warm finger to my lips and silence even the loudest fears in me with a crystal clear gaze and the reassurance I will only ever really believe from her – ‘Everything will be OK.’ And, as she holds me there, captive and spellbound with that single touch and those piercing blue-green eyes, I fancy that I hear her add a little more – ‘Everything will be better than OK. Everything will be better than even you, my starry-eyed wild child, can imagine.’
I want all of these things from her, sometimes I want them with a thundering so loud that I can barely hear another sound… But as I stand here watching these sweet two, lost in their shared reverie and peaceful storytelling embrace, my feet won’t let me move closer. So planted in this now I stay, cherishing that thought, that vision, filing it away.
‘Everything will be OK. Everything will be better than OK. Everything will be better than even you, my starry-eyed wild child, can imagine.’