We’d just seen “Annie” in the Presidio, her first real production so she was pretty wired even though it was 10 o’clock at night.
On a whim, I decided to drive her by her mom’s old apartment in lower Pac Heights.
“The white one?”
“Yup. See that window there? That was her bedroom. We painted it orange. And right up there… that’s where we had our first kiss.”
She stared intently, almost in disbelief, as if looking at the royal palace of the queen.
Then she looked at me and maybe she saw something I didn’t mean to let out.
“Do you miss it?” she asked?
A pretty deep question for a 6-year-old.
One thing I love about kids is how they force you to answer any question in the most simple way possible, which means you always get down to the heart of what you believe.
“I loved living here when I lived here, and now I love living in Oakland with you.”
She looked relieved.
“That’s the beauty of life, girl. Things keep changing. You get older and you try new things. You move around. You see the world. You fall in love.”
She looked at her mom’s window and I half expected her to open the door and run up the stairs, to dive into her own fairytale. But after a moment she reclined into her seat, signifying the tour was over.
She was asleep by the time we hit the bridge.
I thought about my answer. Did I really mean what I had said? Doesn’t everyone want to go back to their twenties?
As I flew across the bridge, I kept glancing back at her sleeping, head hammocked in the seat belt.
I turned up the radio. Taylor Swift sang about first love, heartache, and driving through red lights with the windows down. Seemed appropriate.
When I got home and unclicked Hazel’s seatbelt, she reached out for me, eyes still closed.
I slumped her over my shoulder. She instinctively clutched my neck.
So many different houses, different walkways, different staircases. So many drives home. Someone in their twenties was kissing their future wife on a roof. And there I was, a million kisses ahead of them… making my way up the stairs.
My legs were tired under the weight.
Each step was slow and measured.
You’re almost home.