She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. This was the reoccurring dream he had as a young boy living in Pittsburgh that caused him to abruptly wake up from those deep sleeps. It appeared to have been a premonition because several months later, his mother walked out of the house and his life-- forever.
He would stare out his bedroom window across the street at the small row house with its postage sized front yard all enclosed with a green chain link fence encasing two tiny yard beds filled with bowling balls of different colors forming concentric circles, then framed in with more bowling balls with a cement walkway leading from the gate right onto the public walkway. To the right of the front stoop leading to the darkly stained front door was a clamshell with the Virgin Mary standing within it. Could she hear the sound of the ocean? This was a bowling ball grotto. Inside lived an old woman who never walked out through the front door. She would open it all dressed in black, with beads in one hand and a book in the other. She would slowly lift her head as he watched her watch him from his upstairs window. A slant smile would lift toward him before she would gently turn and walk back into the darkness of her home.
Did she have answers? Did she, too, know loneliness? Might she take his hurt away?
As he peered at her house waiting for a sign or omnipresent answer to his questions that surrounded his feeling of abandonment, he wished for the emptiness to go away. Was the book an atlas of the United States? Did she twirl her finger in the air and allow it to fall onto the national map giving her a landing location? Did she have a suitcase in hand with a picture of him framed inside? Did she take a drawing he had made in school that wished her a Happy Mother’s Day signing his name with love? Was there someone waiting for her as she flew away? Was her heart free or weighted with pain, as his was when he discovered she had gone?
Fifty years later, what had been swirling in the hidden spaces of his mind, surfaced into his daily consciousness. For many years, he would wonder what had happened to his mother. What was the book she closed? Where had she gone; and, if she was still living, or, happy, for that matter? These were deep, disturbing, and traumatic wounds that had not healed, but festered and interrupted the flow of his life.
Now, he had traveled a very long distance just to sit on the curb, in front of the bowling ball grotto house across the street from his childhood home where his life took that dramatic turn. On the curb, dressed in jeans and a hooded winter parka, under a bright sunny sky in mid-winter with his former bedroom window shade drawn closed, the last one on the right just above the large pane of glass framing the living room, he stared trying to make sense of a once terrifying and haunting escape as he held a freshly sealed envelope with all his pain stuffed inside it.