She was a good girl with dreams of bright lights that blinded her as colorful marquees screamed out times and names of shows both known and unknown. She dreamed of hustle and bustle and street vendors with steaming, finger burning warm food wrapped in cheap paper and aromas that just barely masked the musty smell of lost ambitions and the coppery scent of desperate hopes. She dreamed of impatient yellow cabs and cramped, too small apartments and neighbors that spoke to her in voices thickly accented. She dreamed of the life she’d find there and the words she would discover and the blank, white pages she would paint with them, filling them up and transforming them into windows that showed the worlds inside of her, that only she could see.
Then she met a boy with entire universes, sparkling galaxies, in his eyes and promises in his stance. And as time danced past them, a lazy, slow-paced waltz, those dreams of hers shifted to include wide porches with wooden floors and creaking chairs that rocked on them. She saw green yards and white picket fences and endless numbered summer days. She saw sleeping babies and sluggish dogs and smiling neighbors that waved as they lit their grills, filling the air with the smell of burning charcoal. Her boy was young, as she was young, but he vowed to give her the moon and she found that if she was with him, if he was the one giving it, the moon would suit her just fine.
Then came two boys with their daddy’s hair the color of surf kissed sand and dimples that mirrored her own. Two boys born of thunder and lightning with stardust in their souls and fairy magic in their laughs, and the answers to life lining their lyrical voices.
And as she sits outside a farmhouse in need of a coat of paint, on chairs brought from the desert, facing brown fields that horses once roamed, she watches those boys as they chase each other across grass that could be greener. In the background a tire swing gently sways in a breeze she can just barely feel, held up by a tree that would have never grown in the city. Beyond, the land stretches and rolls, whispering, “mine mine mine,” a sagging roofed barn standing in the midst in silent agreement. Crickets chirp and squirrels prattle, each sharing secrets in a language she doesn’t know. Somewhere nearby someone calls out a greeting as a mower grunts and groans before coming to life and a pickup that’s seen better days chugs down the road. It’s the theme song of Smalltown, USA, the soundtrack of her life now. She’s far from her long ago dreams, from the sights and sounds she imagined as a baby before she had babies of her own. But when she tips her head back and gazes up at the pines towering over her, overlooking her little slice of earth, she smiles and picks up her pen. Because even here, in a place so well hidden, without all the things she once craved, she still has worlds inside of her begging to be freed.