The dog is barking mercilessly, high pitched and incessant. I stand to see what he sees. I hear wind chimes and watch dried leaves twitch on cold stiff branches, but there is nothing. He barks again, and finally I understand that he is scolding the unyielding glass. It is an affront, a limitation imposed on him, and it keeps him from the world. He cries out to dance with the crackling leaves and swaying grass because that's all he has. All he ever will have.
I look at the glass and think "this is all I ever will have" and fear wells up inside me until I am breathless, so I turn and make work for myself. I tidy shoes that seem to flee the shoe tray, crossing the floor by themselves as if they, too, seek freedom.
Upstairs I launder and sort and launder and sort clothes that have traveled, that are marked and stained by their journeys, but they always return to the same home, the same room, the same basket. Just as I do. To and from work. To and from children's activities. To and from concerts and movies and dinners and celebrations and funerals. And isn't that what life is? Traveling to and returning from?
I ache to travel to and not return. To fly far away into a world that is brighter than the dried grass and dessicated rose blossoms of my front yard. More worthwhile than the deflated hellos and goodbyes of long acquaintance.
I turn to the noise of the internet, finding color and excitement, but the screen is flat and impenetrable and I cannot hold the interest of strangers. I return. I return to my dishes and my books, my writing and my knitting. I return to my children who leave me every day and come back different. Each evening I greet new children who look the same but whose peregrinations make them strangers. We get to know each other over snacks and homework, these new children and I.
Secretly I know these rituals are shadows of their ultimate departure. Some nights I wrap them warm in their blankets and think "this is all I ever will have" and, on my knees in anguish, I kiss their sweet brows and whisper my heart into their unhearing ears so when they fly their wings will be lifted by my everlasting love, no matter that they don't return.
This is all I ever will have. This heart, these thoughts, this longing, this love. Most days it is enough. But still I see the glass and imagine throwing the door open, letting the dog escape, adventuring like Dorothy into a land of wonder. But unlike her, I do not wish for ruby slippers to bring me back.