Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

World on a String
by Kim Lane

From a distance, it looked like a sliver from some lush, uncharted world gently gliding on a narrow leather cord. A thin, rough-edged stone pressed into silver, its face a cooling swirl of ocean blues, fertile greens and earthy browns embracing flecks of orange and muted yellow that danced and cascaded across his chiseled breastbone.

A bold piece of jewelry, the necklace had an air of independence about it, as though it not only represented a talisman of youthful individuality, but also carried an implied celebration of eternal freedom.

At that time, the wearer of the necklace was still an enigma to me -- a thick novel my heart and eyes were devouring with rapture and caution. Soon he would become my husband, but for now, he was still dark, deep, enchanting water with a fragment of some far off land dangling from his neck.

In our tangle of energetic, burgeoning new love, the stone often and clearly would make itself known -- either awkwardly thwacking against my eye, chin or tooth, snagging in my hair or leaving a ghost print embedded in my skin by morning. Then one day it was gone, suddenly vanished between multiple moves to new cities and the frenzy of two lives merging into one.

Within months we were expecting our first child. Surprised, frightened and face to face with an unknown world rapidly speeding toward us, we clung to each other emotionally and physically, talked fondly of our youth as though it were a dying relative and both secretly wondered how the life we had so hastily and newly yoked together could ever survive such a dramatic shift.

Our son entered life quiet and watchful, as if waiting for whispered secrets from another room. We watched as his personality evolved from guarded to ebullient, and his eyes lightened from the bottomless, newborn-blue to variations of steely-blues swirled with greens and flecked with browns, oranges and muted yellows; amazing eyes unlike any in my or my husband's family; eyes that, six years and two siblings later, all three of our children possess.

Every time I look into those eyes, I'm reminded of the unusual stone my husband wore so long ago. I'm reminded how it disappeared at a monumental moment of transition, our journey together just beginning as our singular lives began the slow orbit of commitment and marriage, and how its colors have suddenly reappeared, manifested in a new form of life transition. I'm reminded how both objects and people move in and out of our lives and sight on a regular basis, leaving ghost prints on our hearts and in our memories as part of the dance. I'm reminded that part of the gift children bring is the ability to reintroduce us to our long-ago selves, to show us just how precious, innocent, trusting and delicate we all were at one time and what an honor it is to be in the presence of such absolute perfection. And I'm reminded what it is to be new to the journey, and how being a first-hand witness to the beginning of anything irrevocably changes what it means to be in the middle and at the end.

In my children's eyes I see welcoming flashes of color -- bits of glowing curiosity, flecks of unbridled energy and swirls of bold independence. I see six breathtaking orbs ablaze with new life and promise, like gazing at a half dozen wayward fragments from some lush, uncharted universe. Mystery fragments that, oddly enough, look and feel just like home.
Kim Lane is the Publisher of AustinMama.com.  Her work has been featured on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered", Salon.com and in Mothering magazine, to name a few.