I’ve loved this song for twenty years, but never owned it. I tried to buy the album when it came out, but I bought the wrong one, and since I’d already spent the money, I never let myself buy the one I wanted. I was really into playing the starving artist back then. Today the memory of the song filtered into my consciousness, with a twinge of regret. Then it occurred to me I could just buy it now. A dollar twenty-nine later, the song was finally mine. When I listen to it, I’m twenty, driving with the windows down, walking barefoot in green grass, staying up late to talk about Art and the rest of my life around a fire. It’s good to remember the way I dove into life then, how much I marvelled at and relished it. Listening now, I feel some of that old passion. I think I’ll keep listening.
Walking with Daughter from our living room to the stairs and back again. Cool air wafts in through the open door and windows. A beam of light from Husband in the office rests on the floor. The dishwasher quietly whirs the dishes clean for tomorrow. The counters are wiped clean.
Even though I’m still walking, part of me rests in the solitude of the moment. The endless “to-do” lists that cycle through my mind stop for a moment. I breathe in the satisfaction of a (kind of) clean kitchen, a day in which everyone was fed and cared for, and exhale relief.
Daughter and I are walking outside. The sun has set and evening is slowly turning to night. I’m trying to get her to sleep, though her curious eyes peeking over the straps of the carrier tell me this is probably a lost cause. Still, the air is cool and it’s nice to be out after a hot day inside.
Daughter is watching the world the way I watch a favourite movie, she barely blinks, not wanting to miss a moment. For my part, though I notice the soft pink and blue of the sky, the hopping robins and dive-bombing dragonflies, I am looking into other people’s houses, with almost the same intensity as Daughter. Since it’s hot, some people keep their blinds open and I can see bits and pieces of their lives; flashes of art on walls, bags dropped by doorways. I can even see some people, an older lady watching TV, a little girl laughing with her father. I don’t know what I love about this so much. I’m partly looking for decorating ideas. I’m horrible at home decor and I want to see what other people have done with their places. But I also love getting a glimpse of a private moment in someone else’s world. There’s such poetry, somehow, in the flickering television, the abandoned toys, the shoes by the door. I think of all my neighbours eating, breathing, hoping and dreaming and silently wish them all a good night’s sleep.
Son and Husband are in our living room. I’m just across from them, in our kitchen. Son holds a wooden green onion in one hand, Husband holds a stone obelisk. They are grinning at each other. Son shouts, “one, two, three, ready!”. They both turn to me, point the onion and the obelisk and shout, “Shazam!”. I laugh. A big laugh, a hearty laugh, and bounce up and down.
You see, a while ago, Son had a tantrum and he was feeling so sad. Son has big feelings and they linger a long time. He didn’t know how to feel better again, so I told him I had a magic wand that would make him feel happy. I took a stone obelisk off our mantle, pointed it at him and shouted, “Shazam!”. It perked him up a bit, then he immediately wanted to try it out too. I hadn’t thought of this. The stone was too heavy for him, so I told him the wooden green onion in his kitchen was magic too. He tried it on Husband first, then me, and we did our best to become instantly happy when he shouted, “Shazam!”. From that day on, Son used it on us more than we ever used it on him. Today is the first time both Son and Husband joined forces to magic me happy. Two magicians in shorts. The funny thing is, it actually works.
A day of sunshine, bacon and egg breakfast (made by Husband), and popsicles. We made the popsicles yesterday and Son had to wait until his snack-time today – about 24 whole hours – to finally eat one. He went to bed talking about popsicles, he woke up talking about popsicles, I’m sure he dreamed about them. (I actually did, a consequence of all the recipes I’d been reading.) Son’s Long Wait reminded me how slowly time seems to move when we’re young. (“Is it snack time, now, Mama?”) I felt such sympathy for him – I know today felt like an eternity for him, while it felt like ten minutes for me.
I didn’t actually get to see him take his first bites, I was napping, gloriously with Daughter, but his excitement met me on my way down the stairs, “Look Mama! Popsicles!” His arm waving a mostly empty stick, with a bit of watermelon red still clinging to it. “Want a lick?”
Oh, what joy to be four and eat your first popsicle. Oh what a gift to be a popsicle-bestowing Mama on a hot summer’s day.
Daughter is lying on her changing pad, looking out the window. This is one of her favourite spots. She can happily spend thirty minutes here sometimes; just gazing.
I kiss her cheek, then lay mine on hers so that I’m looking in the same direction she is. I feel the softness of her cheek on mine, while I see the world from her perspective. The startling blue of the sky contrasting with the vivid green of the leaves. And the sun shining through it all, painting shadows on the blinds.
I hold my breath for a second, wanting to hold on to the beauty of it all. The surprising beauty of an ordinary day.
Daughter is on the examining table in Dr. K’s tiny office. She is naked except for her diaper, and is lounging like a baby Buddha. She is serene, watching Dr. K. intently. We have just weighed Daughter, and now Doctor K. is checking her hips for flexibility. Her hands are gentle. Finished the check, Dr. K. lets go of Daughter’s legs and says, “what a grace it would be if at the end of life, we could be as relaxed and trusting as we are in the beginning”.
I look at Dr. K., into the sparkling, youthful green eyes that contrast with her long, greying hair. I wonder how she feels about getting older. A lot of her patients are probably closer to the ends of their lives than the beginning. We always need doctors more towards the end. She must see them struggle and fight, as I have seen older family members do. I think about how different it would have been for them if they had been able to go through it as serenely as Daughter. Such serenity at the end of life has never seemed like a possibility. “Getting old is not for sissies”, an uncle once told me.
I think of myself, now in the middle of life and wonder what my walk to the end will look like. I hope I’m able to remember Dr. K.’s bit of wisdom.