“rainy window” by Jo Naylor. Licensed for reuse. https://flic.kr/p/5G4NWM

The day dawns densely clouded. Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles and rain falls steadily. I am around 4 years old and I am kneeling, faced backwards on the living room couch, my chin resting on my folded arms. I watch the rain and the ashen sky lighten ever so slightly with the invisible but surely rising sun. I dimly sense the sounds and smells of breakfast from the kitchen as I sit with this moment on this day in this space in this body through these eyes.

I’ve become more interested in this little girl as I’ve gotten older and she has seemingly become more distant. This little girl who is me but not-me. I love her with the seriousness of her play and the quiet thoughtfulness of her gaze through the various windows of her life: the living room as in this memory, her various bedroom windows in the different houses where she grew up, the rear car window where the world always recedes from her, and later the schoolroom window which held endless daydreams and worlds of possibility forever on the other side of the glass. I admire her independent pursuits and recognize the unselfconscious way she asks for help or explanation but really prefers if you would let her do it (whatever it is) by herself. I’ve become interested in what has changed and what is constant, and interested in those early non-memories that seem more like sense-perceptions or snapshots of feelings.

Among those memories this particular rainy day at the window sticks out in my mind. I remember it specifically though it doesn’t seem to have any particular event to define it. I can conjure it still. A full-blown rush of feeling on certain rainy mornings when I look out the window early as the sun is still rising. The feeling-memory fills me up and strikes me wordless. Makes me long for something I can’t name. So I return to this memory. To this gaze through the window over the back of the couch at the dark and relentlessly raining sky, and the sense of my mother’s presence in the kitchen that emanates light, warmth, lovely smells and comfort. This memory I’ve realized is precious to me and I keep it, as we often do with precious things, put away and safe from harm, taken out on occasion to admire and appreciate. I hesitate to attach an adult interpretation to this memory. I want it to remain pure and innocent and uniquely childish. Yet here I am 40 years later still pondering it. After 40 years of gazing out of windows as the sun rises. Looking. Watching. Aware of awareness. In that memory: aware of myself as a being separate somehow from the dense sheet of clouds, the rain and thunder, from my mother in the next room, and yet inextricably connected to it all at the same time. Alone but together; small but unlimited; separate but comforted; each of us a wave rising from an ocean of infinite depth. In the depths I am still that little girl, I can see through her eyes again and from that view I can allow everything to be as it is.