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The Roads We Travel

These days. I have snow on my mind. I'm in the midst of a novel set in the 1930's and it is snowing on the mountain. It's like stepping from this world into another and it brought me right back to the first snowfall I'd ever seen. I was three years old and me and Mama were on our way to see Daddy. He was a Paratrooper with the 101 Airborne and was stationed in Kentucky. My memory is some ancient thing I cannot explain. How young I was and how my memories reach back farther still, play in perfect movies in my mind. This night me and Mama are on the road alone. Mama stopped at a little diner and we went inside and sat at a table by the window. As we waited for our food to be delivered it began to snow. Big flakes coming down fast, the streetlight in the parking lot illuminating the sky to my amazement. Mama, exclaiming, Look! It's snowing. Me, a Florida girl with no knowledge of this strange event. Her just a young mother on her own heading off into the darkness with her little girl but she was made of strong stuff and she pushed on as Mamas do. She took a minute to make me a snowball while I tried to catch snowflakes on my tongue. Then she passed it to me, let me hold it for a little bit. Said, It's time to go. But I wouldn't let go of the snowball. Wouldn't leave it behind. It was mine. She'd given it to me. It was something wonderful and new and I didn't want to ever let it go. And because I was crying over this and only three and she really needed to get on down that road she let me carry it into the car. I sat in the front seat holding the snowball, crying because it was melting and she was trying as best she could while she drove down those dark Kentucky roads to explain to me that snow would melt and there was no way to keep it. That it could not be done. And I held it tearfully until the very end. Snow melting between my fingers, Mama filling my lap with Kleenex while she tried to fill my mind with reason. I didn't understand that things change shape, become one thing, then another, and sometimes return to the state they started from. How things can melt, evaporate and disappear like they were never even there. I think I have tried to hang onto some things, situations, people long after they had begun to melt, evaporate, return to another state. And, I think it hurt just like trying to hang onto that melting snowball, watching it go, slip between my fingers and realizing there was not a damn thing I could do but keep on moving down that lonesome road. But - I'm older, wiser, tougher than I once was. And also- kinder, gentler, more forgiving of humanity as a whole. Now, I know that a thing is always evolving or deconstructing, shifting into another state or moving into another season. Molecules and entropy and all that. And the best thing to do is just keep on driving, following those headlights one more mile at a time down that highway.

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