He likes it here, the climate and the wildness agrees with him. He likes being left to his own devices outside, just as I used to. Likes making his own discoveries about where to put what foot when clambering up the boulders in my parent’s garden, which isn’t so much a garden as an expanse stretching up the mountain I used to climb up myself most days, just to get a good view of the hurtigruten ferry passing through.
I hope that John’s clambering will teach him more about how to navigate this world than I ever could, teach him what lichen to avoid stepping onto after a rainy day, which roots to look out for and not to get his shoes trapped under, when to hoist himself up with help of the friendly branch of pine tree knowing that he’ll most likely get drenched in rain drops splashing down from above, when to keep low to avoid tumbling down a ravine.
When he’s older and starts staying out longer, venturing further and higher than this small but wild radius he has claimed as his own, he’ll learn to navigate the treacheries of the sea mist on the days in which it envelops everything, learn what to do when the rivers he wants to cross swell such that the only way through them is in sacrificing the comfort of dry socks, he’ll learn to enjoy that steady focus of stepping on uneven stones for hours on end, hours that I hope will count among his happiest, despite his damp socks and the biting wind.
I’m watching him make his way up the steep slope through the window of my parent’s kitchen, marvelling at how at ease he is in his aloneness, how he doesn’t even think to turn around and check if I’m there or if he has my approval. How there’s no hesitation or ambivalence in him at all about where he wants to go and what he wants to do to get there, no consideration of what it means to leave me behind, to escape my vantage point of him, to go beyond the safe space we have provided for him here.
I’m always in two minds about whether to let him go. Part of me screams a quiet terror that something would happen to him, that’d he’d get hurt, lose his footing, get lost. But that part of me has no accomplice here, no one here makes any room for any of my nerves, which they all chalk down as urbane nonsense, as a high minded histrionics of the kind that just haunts a person into total inaction and apathy. They tell me that all my time away seems to have taught me how to find new things to worry about. They say that I’ve learnt to think quicker than I should ever have to, and that thinking too much at such a velocity never did anyone any good either. Some days I agree with them, some days I don’t.