tempus fugit

Our neighbour’s lime tree. Their house may be demolished soon, so I’m trying to figure out how to save this beautiful plant.

Our neighbour’s lime tree. Their house may be demolished soon, so I’m trying to figure out how to save this beautiful plant.

A couple of months ago, as I was walking out of Alex’s bedroom after wishing her goodnight, she called after me.

“Mom! Do you realize that next year I’m going to be a high school junior?”

I furrowed my brow, and counted the years off in my head: freshman, sophomore, junior, senior.

“No, babe, that’s not right,” I said. “You’re a freshman now. You’ll be a sophomore next year.”

“Nope,” she insisted. I’ll start my sophomore year this year, in the fall. Which means that next fall, I’ll be starting my junior year.”

My eyes widened.

Holy crap, I thought. I’m running out of time.

We’ve been back in the house since December, and still, most of our street is dark. In fact, on our street of 14 homes, we’re only the 4th family to return, and no one has returned since we moved in. Some of our neighbours sold their ruined homes and moved. Some families moved, and are still trying to sell their boarded-up homes, hoping for some sort of profit. Some are still trying to rebuild their homes, and others have razed their homes and their barren plots are for sale.

For many, Hurricane Harvey is still very much present in their lives.

The other day, I was talking to someone in town about Harvey (because Harvey still comes up a lot in conversation around here in Houston), and he said, “Yeah. Twenty-seventeen was helluva year.”

“You mean 2018,” I smiled.

He looked at me quizzically. “No … Harvey was summer of 2017, wasn’t it?”

I began to argue, and then suddenly startled. This summer will be the two-year anniversary of Harvey, not one.

Holy crap, I thought. That went fast.

Yesterday, I had coffee with an old friend — a colleague who I used to work with when I was a lawyer, and she was a geologist. Neither of us do what we did back then, and while we were catching up, she suddenly asked a question that I hadn’t considered since a job interview many years ago.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” she asked.

I was stumped. “Well, let’s see, Alex will be … gosh, she’ll be twenty, and in university …” I stalled. “I’m not entirely sure, actually. I mean, I probably will be doing something related to what I do now, because I love what I do, but … even more? I don’t know. I hadn’t seriously thought about that, I guess.”

She smiled. “Yeah,” she said. “It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?”

It certainly is.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
— Mary Oliver