I wake up in Georgia on my 27th birthday.
I'm in my grandparents' house and echoes of my childhood surround me: familiar teddy's, the same case of books, a sleeping lump in the other twin bed. I brought Ben to see my Georgia, but for a minute, it's my sun burned, clear eyed, big brother Peter sleeping on the other side, and it's the morning of my 7th birthday.
Sleepy. Quiet. Still. There's a bird outside nudging me to get up, fly.
Through the fog of sleep I hear Peter, "Lu, are you awake? Wake up". I turn over in a tangle of sun bleached hair.
Birthday. It's my birthday.
The scene is as it always would be: mom and dad out running, grandpa working, gram making lists.
Peter and I pour out cereal, and settle in.
Soon enough the morning's filtered light lifts to a high sun, we abandon milky sticky bowls for still-wet swimsuits and the day is browning bellies and pool games.
Today I am 7 and I believe I might be a mermaid, if I just try hard enough.
There is a Little Mermaid cake and Barbie roller skates. The cake, I asked for in detail; the roller skates, I didn't. The roller skates scare me, but the scene is as it always would be: I learn how, because I can, because they always say I can.
My big brother smiles, shows me how he skates, says, "Yes! You're doing it!" And that's all I ever wanted.
Another bird nudges, "Get up, fly." Hair still tangles. "Ben, are you awake? Wake up. Birthday. It's my birthday".