Tuesday, July 16, 2013

birthday for real

Today she is six for real.  They woke early, so, very early.  Early and eager.  For whatever reason I've been bone tired in the evenings lately.  Single mama-ing takes a different level of concentration perhaps.  Or maybe it's the heat.  I feel like I did when I lived abroad in Spain at seventeen.  Come three o'clock, I'm ready to siesta with the best of them.  Unlike those days in Spain, I don't exactly rally at ten to hit the discoteque.  Alas.  My girl is six.  And we had a heck of a day. 

Somehow presents were done before seven thirty a.m. or so.  Which left a whole lot of time for celebrating.  Auntie Alison sent a Target gift card, so that was a first must stop.  The Ariel bath doll was the first to speak to Els and, at long last, the prize for the basket.  Soli had to have a big, red bouncy ball because the birthday envy was running pretty deep.  We'd had lots of tears.  Thanks, mama, for sending him a wrapped present for the first round of gifts.  I think I've got it all figured out and then I remember how little I really know. 

The day moved quickly from there.  There was a stop for baby burritos before we headed to Splash.  I was so dang thankful for our local water park, for our friends who were there to meet us, for the ease that is water and children in the summer sun.  When we were finally waterlogged, it was the Big Dipper for green tea rolled in sprinkles, on the house. 

When we finally got Soli down, Eliana and I were wiped.  I have this new bad-summertime-mama habit which is Eliana asks to watch Arthur on the ipad and I say yes and read my book beside her.  I just can't help it.  I suggest that we write stories or do art or read books.  Sometimes we do some of those things.  Sometimes we bake or play outside.  And sometimes, like today, we just chill the heck out.  Am I just getting old?  Lazy?  Is it the heat?  Why do I need to absolutely stop moving in the afternoons?  I'm trying to let it go.  I'm trying to say, dang girl, you're a great mama.  So the kid watches a bit of TV.  Go easy.

After siesta, Eliana requested sushi.  High class tastes, like her mama.  Sixty dollars and another scoop of green tea later (this time fried in tempura batter, topped with chocolate sauce and berries), we were heading back up the hill.  Eliana's Ariel bath doll had been on her mind all afternoon and she was dying to watch her in her natural habitat.  I love that girl.  I love that she still loves Disney princesses.  I have a hunch next year Ariel will not exactly jump off the shelf the same way she did today. 

Oh these days.  They are so very full.  Full of feelings and ideas, frustrations and messes, stops and starts.  Full of the love between a brother and a sister, a mother and her six year old.  I was so missing Jeff today.  Miss him more than ever.  The air tonight resembled the air six years ago, the six twenty four pm that the girl flew from my body.  The sudden storm and clean heat.  The red sheets and the sleigh bed.  The way we hesitated in the parking lot hours later, wondering how the heck to put this small creature in a carseat and drive home.  A group of bikers revved their engines and it seemed so cruel to bring this tiny being into the loud, scary world.  So began the extreme vulnerability. 

Tonight as we walked back to our car through downtown, we ran into person after person that we knew.  Eliana was able to hear happy birthday from a few more people.  They asked her kind questions, engaged her, laughed.  We headed up the hill and I exhaled a giant breath of gratitude for this valley that has helped raise my child.  For the kindness of community and grace of open space.  For the mamas who have modeled for me how to be, encouraged my best self, listened to all the moments of raw frustration. 

They are finally quiet and I write in a new space.  In a new living room.  Candles burn low, my ladies shine on the mantle, my radio plays softly.  Sometimes I can hardly believe it.  How far I've come.  How far we've all come. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

almost six

 I need a moment to write on this overcast, July morning.  Blues and grays streak the sky like something I wish I could inhale, bottle, frame and mount above my bed.  It's that lovely.  The north hills still show hints of green, recall yesterday's lightning storm, keep the air light.  In a few hours I'll arrive at the park with my bushels full of party supplies, like I've done so many other July days.  My girl will be six on Tuesday.  We celebrate her today while her daddy is still in town, while the hills still shine barely green.  Ani's, "Swan Dive" is on my Pandora and I'm filled with memories and longing thinking about how this birthday party thing has, somehow, become old hat.  How we know this drill because, somehow, she is six.  She is six and she exudes kindness, sensitivity, an amazing ear for language and music and the wacky sense of humor that comes with almost-first-grade. She's been in drama camp from nine to four every day this week and walks out a little taller, a little stronger, and a little more one with the world every single day.  Tremendous, this girl.  Tremendous.

Friday, July 5, 2013

what makes a family

Late June

Layers like vines
like family
like shifts and currents
line our lives.
We find ourselves on a plane
moving over landscapes in search
of past relics, sisters and friends,
dry, hot hills, the colors of Berkeley,
Mazzy's a warm monkey on my back and
I wear her with pride, traverse old haunts,
remember lost loves.
Djembes echo from the train station,
raw hands intersect histories,
history is new here and the train fills
with glitter and fairy wings,
piercings and pride.
We move like a wave towards the park,
spill into one another with solidarity,
sisters and sisters,
brothers and brothers.
Melissa moves with grace in the heat,
her pregnant belly a swollen smile.
They think the baby is mine.
We fit in all the more.

Back at home, cousins arrive,
and we watch the relations unfold.
The drama that is two three year olds
finding their way, sharing space,
Solomon equal parts
joy and frustration,
his moments passionate and resolute.
The way Eliana plays a new role,
almost six,
lost her first tooth while I was away,
milestones abound,
her leadership kind and steady until
she too feels frustrated and needs
her space.  The heat doesn't help and
we seek refuge along creek pools,
water fountains, cool basements. 
We are all trying to find our way.
Navigating as parents and children,
as uncles and aunts,
as grandmothers and grandfathers,
friends.  This now is new to all of us. 
This now has a pulse of her own,
like the palpable energy of hope and
celebration that resonated through the
voice of the Castro, smiles spilled from
shops and bars, hands clasped,
history unfolding before our eyes.