WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? They ask. It’s an honest question, a serious one, a frequent one. “The years just blow by.” But do they? Because when I think of the day when our first daughter was born, it feels like it happened a long time ago. How many homes have we had since then? I care not to count them. The past decade brims with times and places and things that happened then. How I cradled the newborn in my arms in that hospital corridor in snowed-in Tallinn, or how I ran back and forth over the bridge in Glasgow in the summer of ’05, with the 18-month-old barn on my shoulders, and the sun and wind in our hair. She laughed and loved it. On the Isle of Arran, Epp nursed her in the rare Scottish warmth. We fanned out across the soft green moors, following sheep, searching for standing stones. We changed her diaper in the grass with the midges buzzing about.
Two thousand and five. We lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, that summer. It was hot and crushed-like-sardines urban, the home to which we returned. The other day, I was driving past our old place, coming up over the hill, with Manhattan in the distance, I could almost see myself chasing the little one down the sidewalk on the way to the park. “Lähme kõndima!” She says. It’s an Estonian phrase that means “Let’s go for a walk.” Except on that day, when she yelled it, I wasn’t sure of what it meant. I was listening to melancholic music and began to tear up, not because I was sad, but because it seemed like that scene happened so long ago. Who knows if she remembers any of it. Now, she’s a decade old and tells me that my hat is stupid and that my jokes are bad, and that all the bands I listen to sound like The Beatles, and that I’m just annoying, period. Then she hooks her arm in mine while we are walking, as if she’s afraid to fall.