California days seem short even when they’re not, dimmed by the sudden slant of the afternoon rays. The heat of a workday chills by four. Even in summer, our suppers were always at five.
My grandfather would open the screen door and call us kids inside. I might be kneeling under the shade arbor digging in muddy loam with a bent spoon. Might be on the side of the house corralling pill bugs into a coffee tin. Might be on the swing dragging my bare feet in the dirt. Or I might be invisibly snug under the umbrella boughs of an orange tree, sitting still and quiet. All those days in the dirt are what made the place my own.
Hearing my name rise in the air, I would come running toward the deep resonance in his voice, and in that instant, be completely accounted for. Teachers take roll, that’s what teachers do. They stand on a step and say your name. How do you respond?
Here I am!
What matters most is that you’re here. It matters most because it is the one irrefutable fact of your life. To say anything more misses the mark.