Light between the blinds

In my mom’s condo.

When I was a child, I would lay on the warm bricks of my front porch in the afternoon sun and rest. I’d lie there for hours, until dusk, when the shadows of the apple tree and porch awning blanketed my tiny body. Long Beach, California cradled me.

During summer, my mom, brother, and I would be home together. My mom was an elementary school teacher and did not work from June to August. After lazy days of reading and gnawing on apple cores, she would nap.

She was like a cat: light slumber on the couch next to the window, slow breathing, mouth agape. My brother would follow suit; he’d retreat to our room, the warmth of the late afternoon lulling him to sleep.

I was left alone to enjoy the baseline quiet, the melodic drone of the electrical lines in the alley behind our house, and the occasional honk interlude from the 405 freeway.

The pavement stayed warm just for me; the bugs and the spiders trekked over and around me, in mutual contentment, all at ease

When I became too drowsy, I’d escape inside where it was cooler. I liked the old cluttered office in the front of the house that my parents rarely used. There were huge cardboard boxes full of ancient documents, preschool art, photo albums, and letters from family and friends. Between the yellowing sheets of paper and the dusty cobwebs, I’d settle.

I liked to gaze at the streaks of light (the kind of light that seeped through the aged blinds, the blinds that were water-stained from a past winter morning’s condensation (that weepy kind that when you wake up too early on another gentle Southern California day, you draw flowers and butterflies in with your tiny fingers, until they’re cold and numb and red)) that decorated the dim eggshell walls from my nest on the red-carpeted floor.

Even as a child, I remember thinking, “There’s nothing I want more than this.”

Falling asleep to the painted light was a luxury, the déjà vu of each passing summer afternoon a snapshot I preserved in the back of my mind for anxious moments.

Years later, after that porch became a distant memory, that room was renovated for a new family, and I no longer had a multitude of summer afternoons to spare, I found myself in my mom’s new condo. She was out of town. I’d recently graduated from a master’s program and was temporarily back.

Alone, I wandered into her small office. Anxious, tired, and solemn, I laid down on the grey polyester carpet. I tugged at the fibers beneath me with my tiny fingers, no larger than my childhood hands that painted pictures on watery canvases.

My upward gaze discovered those long strips of sunlight. The small fragile blinds on my mom’s window bled with listless warmth. The blue walls of the room were decorated with the comfort of a youthful summer, the carpet saturated with a self-prompted tenderness I hadn’t experience in over a decade.

I remembered. I wanted to stay in that rare comfortable instant forever, even though it felt closer to nothing than something. Weepy like dawn, I felt everything on me melt. I could be small and light again, if just for the lifespan of the afternoon sun.

I’m 23-years-old, a little lost, severely anxious, depressed, and thinking too much. I’m trying to find spots in the sun. They’re fleeting and small, but they are so very warm. Looking up is your best bet. I aim to find more in the near future.