by Sarah Kovatch
A back-to-school memory. Fall 2014: First day of preschool for Anna. She is three and barely toilet-trained—fingers crossed on that as we snap a photo in front of her classroom before venturing in. She’s wearing a giant purple L.L. Bean backpack and she looks like a baby still, cheeks for days. At three-and a-half, Anna authoritatively pronounces her “Ls” like “Ys” as in “Yeggings” and “Yook!” and our family favorite, “Yove.” Her fine brown curls are pinned back with pink plastic bunny barrettes. We have dozens of those pastel barrettes—I can’t walk ten steps in the house without picking one up from the stairs, the rug, the play table…it is the breadcrumb trail of innocence itself. Years later they’ll turn up every now and then in a suitcase pocket or beneath a couch cushion, like a message from the past.