I had one of those moments this morning where I could feel my place in the panoramic I was standing in. Do you know that feeling? When the street elongates and the horizon becomes narrow and the train that is passing in front of you could go on for infinity in either direction?
It was just starting to rain and my hood was on, so I was that woman in a heavy black coat and bare knees waiting for the Amtrak to slide through Jack London Square. As I caught glimpses of myself, I could see my son’s life reflected in the moving windows like frames of a film, the moment elongated and that train became a decade.
My decade, his decade.
10 years ago I couldn’t get to class when it was around the corner. But at 21 I could have a baby? How crazy is that? Which is the more impossible and improbable and terrifying endeavor; having children so young or attending UC Berkeley? 4 years after he was born, I would take that very same train three mornings a week to Berkeley from Sacramento. I would get up at 6am to barely make it to a 10am class. That train changed his life. He doesn’t remember Sacramento anymore. He kind of remembers the preschool he went to when he was 3, but he doesn’t remember me; he was too young to pay attention to the day to day activities. We moved into UC housing; the weekend of his 5th birthday.
Through the panes of the train’s windows I am seeing his childhood in Berkeley. He only knows of his mother as dynamic, always in motion, strategic, under pressure. The speaker at her department’s commencement. To think I have a son who has this kind of mother, I have no idea what that is like.
And then the commuter train finally passes.
And the crossing gates lift.
And now he is 10.