My father and I, mother watching warily from a height above us, sat by the riverfront. I watch as the river swells, laughter rises, and beauty both diminishes and is soon replaced by the nighttime sky.
I wait until the sun sets the world on fire. I let this moment drag.
“Dad, I’ve never learned how to skip stones.”
“What kind of childhood have you had?”
A nomadic one, a cultural one, a confusing one thoughts flow into my head.
“The one you gave me.”
He bends down with his aching knees and has a fist full of rocks in his hands. He puts one into my hand and shows me how to throw it as if I’m still a child.
Moments like this make my mothers heart swell and my father regrets momentarily how much of a normal life I’ve never had. Then he laughs about it and realizes he could never change it. I’m eighteen now, I look and act nothing like a normal eighteen year old and that’s what makes me their child.
I continue to skip rocks until the fires dim out and the world is cold and cool again. I listen to the sounds of splashing in the canoes we rode earlier, the chanting of the temple we visited and although so much joy and beauty existed, I found my most favorite part of the journey was skipping stones along the river bank with my father watching the first ripple, create a second ripple, then a third, to sink into the bottom of the bank.
What was, what is, and what will be.