She belted out the words though as I walked by I didn’t catch them. Her voice tore through the air, hands flying over strings.
Somebody’s baby, was all I could think. Was she from Wisconsin or L.A. or around the corner? Had she run away, been abused? Did her parents know where she was or not give a shit?
What brought her to a street corner in a scruffy seaside town? The sign propped up in her guitar case: traveling broke, anything helps.
Exchange more than three words and nobody adheres to type for long. This girl could’ve been my daughter, my sister, my friend, me.
Somebody’s baby was all I could think as I walked by, thinking about my own girls back home three thousand miles away –
Except it was I who left to be alone, backing away from my small charges. Where was my guitar? Where was my reflection?
I could keep walking, I thought. Could belong here by the ocean with its succulents and surfers.
I could run, too. Is this what it takes to tend to my own self?
Who would my girls be if their mama didn’t come home again? Who would I be, abandoner of them who came through me?
What tempts us isn’t always love. Sometimes we have to step away, find a street corner far from home, belt out a tune, let it rip, travel broke, walk away from everything.
And then, maybe, we can see something clearly – what we’ve borne. See what we owe to the people we brought into this harrowing world.
It is our job to leave the door open for our babies, no matter how far they’ve roamed.
And to come home, back home, to leave the door open to ourselves, to our own hearts and faces, that song tearing through the fog.
This, no matter how unforgivable we think we’ve been, no matter how hard it is to remember who we were once. Still somebody’s baby, still somebody’s ocean beach girl.