It’s only six years later that I finally found the courage and the time to go back to my hometown. I asked my daughter if she wanted to go on a long walk with dad and she euphorically said yes before even knowing where we were going. She grew up very well and she was now a beautiful little girl, with red hair, I could recognize her mother in a lot of aspects and that made me quite nostalgic but I was also very blessed to have her with me. I told her that we were going to the town where her mother and I lived when we were younger, that felt strange to say since it somehow felt like it was only last month that we were still carelessly talking on the top of this hill.. She sometimes would ask about her mother and I gladly told her, it was a bit painful at first when I had to remember about those forever gone moments with her but I managed to find something good in it, I am now reminiscing memories of her with a smile. She also has the same smile as her mother, it makes me feel warm whenever I see it happen, I feel that she is still with me even if we’re so far from each other. I was glad that she had such motivation to walk a lot but she probably didn’t even have the idea of how far this town was when we had to walk to get there, it was a least one or two days.
On a quiet summer morning we left our residence without regrets, I didn’t know when we would come back but I made a promise with myself that we would. I turned my head around a few times, I felt like a was leaving her behind or something like that but my overjoyed daughter was always taking back my attention with her cute laughs and questions. She seemed pretty curious about life even at her young age, I guess she finally reached that age when she can think and wonder about thing, I guess she took it from me a little bit, always curious about everything! I don’t think that it’s a bad thing though, I have seen so many things with this curiosity that it might be a sin to just ignore it or say it’s bad. I explained to her that we would go visit her grandparents, those people are my mother and my father, she seemed quite impressed by this and it made me smile. I told her that they were members of her family and she immediately asked me was really was a family. I told her that in a family there usually was a father and a mother, she could have brothers and sisters too, that would be children from the same parents and I think I could discern from her disappointed face that she realized she could probably never have a brother or a sister even if she really wanted to.
She pretty much accepted by now that her mother wasn’t here anymore but I don’t think she knows everything she’s missing and I don’t really want to be the one that will have to tell her, I prefer that she realizes it on her own, I know she can. She asked if we could go see the parents of her mother too but I said that I didn’t know where they were so we couldn’t, I don’t really like to lie but once again I couldn’t even be certain myself if they were dead or not and anyways I’ve never met them before, how awkward could this get? Oh hello miss, I am… the father of your grandchild! They wouldn’t probably even believe me if they still lived, I thought to myself, laughing quietly at the scene I just made in my mind. I noticed that she was starting to fall asleep as she walked, it was almost night now, she must have been extenuated. I proposed to carry her on my back for a bit, she accepted and once she has rested her tiny head on my shoulder, she fell asleep almost instantly. I kept on walking for a few more hours but when it was too dark to continue I looked for a spot to spend the night.
Even if it was really late, the warmness of the summer kept me awake a bit while I was looking upon my daughter, peacefully dreaming at my side, her head on my lap. I remembered quite a few moments that happened like this, like the very first time we slept together when climbing the mountain, just having her that close to me generated so much warmth that I had difficulties finding sleep, I wonder if she had the same problem. I have trouble sleeping when it’s too hot, but also when it’s too cold, I guess I’m just picky about temperature but does that make me ungrateful about nature? I mean, is anything more pleasant than a wave of warmth when you’re freezing and a cold wind blow through your hair when it’s hot? Like if heaven listened to me or something, wind started to blow gently, I looked up at the sky and noticed a few stars that I would recognize almost every time. I don’t know yet if they had a special meaning for me but don’t you think that’s it’s kind of amazing to be able to be able to distinguish a few out of a lot more? It’s a bit like making friends in a town full of people, you might not see them everyday but if you look for them they’ll be there for you, anywhere.
When I woke up the next morning, I was quite a bit nervous to not see my daughter next to me, I jumped on my feet and it didn’t take long before I saw her in the distance, chasing something that looked like a rabbit. Unfortunately for her, she had approximately no chance at all to catch up to him even if he seemed a bit slow for a rabbit in danger. I waved my hand at her and she quickly turned around to come with me. I told her that we might want to hurry up if we want to get to this town before the afternoon, she looked quite playful , I guessed that she really liked being outdoors and be free to run wherever she liked. She would always stay inside when we were at home, I didn’t really know why but I thought that she was afraid to go outside alone, I guess I could understand that, the unknown is sometimes pretty scary. We started walking on a good pace towards the town, humming joyful melodies and pointing at the birds as they flew by, this was probably the best days I had since quite a few years and I was really proud to be able to go through that, I wondered how my parents will react when they’ll see me. Do they still live at the same place? What if they’ve moved, or… died? I somewhat started to be anxious since the first reason why I made all this walking was to be able to meet them again but I didn’t think about what would I do if they weren’t at the same place I left them six years ago.
I think my daughter saw in my face how disturbed I was and she asked me what was wrong. I simply told her that I wasn’t even sure where my own parents were and that made me feel anxious. She said “Don’t worry, I’m sure that you will find your parents. I will always find you, no matter where you are!”. I looked at her smiling at me as she finished this heart-warming sentence, tears came to my eyes but I quickly wiped them away. She was right. I really had to see them and I wouldn’t abandon that easily, there were things to be said and errors to be fixed. I patted her head as she awkwardly closed her eyes, I was already quite proud of her and I couldn’t wait to let my parents meet her, they will probably love her too. We walked a few more hours before seeing the outlines of the town, I was nostalgia-struck.
Even if it had been six years, I felt like the town didn’t even change, it was a bit like if the town itself got stuck in time when I left and would refuse to live another day without me. I walked on the exact same tall grass I have been before, crossing paths with the same trees and seeing the same animals. It’s almost like I never left this town and what I feared the most was actually happening, I felt like I was living here. That was a bit problematic because I probably wouldn’t want to go back to my house, but I had to and I knew that if I came here and felt like an outsider I wouldn’t have any problem going back. I went directly to my parent’s house, the house that I lived the first part of my life, home of so many memories, good and bad ones.
I was quite stressed when I approached it since it looked like nobody was living in it, like if it was abandoned. This house was always so lively and yet it seemed dead, that was probably the only change I noticed since I arrived. I stopped in front of the massive wooden door and took a big breath, I raised my fist to knock at the door but hesitated. My daughter looked up at me, wondering what I was hesitating for, she held my free hand as I knocked three times on the door. I waited for what felt like eternity but I finally heard some footsteps behind the door, my heart was beating so fast that it was audible, I felt a deep warmth going up my chest as the person on the other side rotated the doorknob.
It was my mother who opened the door and when she looked at me, she started crying.