Spring everywhere. Even the smell of paper in Staples was fresher, like it was about to bloom back into trees. Riotous piles of multicolored paperclips like tulips. A boy stood in front of me, blocking my path.
“Mom? Where are you? Where are you?” He was apostrophizing a pile of index cards.
I had a heart-wrenching mindflash: me in a department store screaming, age 5 or 6, my mother just two or three sale racks away, but invisible, and there was no map of the world any more, no house or place, and I was lost like in my dreams, dreams in the jungle where I was supposed to hold on to my father and he got smaller and smaller and finally I dropped him because he was so tiny and there was nothing but green overgrowth and night. Spring takes me all over the place.
The boy tried again, nervously: “Mom? Where are you?”
A New Yorker’s curt twangy voice from the next aisle: “I’m here, Matt, I’m here.”
There was a pause. “I don’t know where here is,” he replied.
I was now next to him; I could see, as it were, the whites of his eyes. I shouldn’t have said anything, I really shouldn’t have, but his response seemed very beautiful. “Join the club,” I said. Just then, the mother came into view from around a bin of binders. She heard my comment, saw me address her child: she was not pleased.