Almost all my early memories happen on Mama Heaton’s front porch. That’s why this morning it felt so good to sit on a porch with Eva, to rock back and forth while the wind blew, to tell her stories about watermelon seed spitting and pig tail splitting. This far south, the cherry trees are on fire, and I try to explain home to her. This is home, I say, and later, we’re going home. Home, I say again and point to her, then rock until finally she sleeps. Home.
Last night, I stumbled into the city for a meeting with my writing group, and I was gone for hours. The sun set; the air warmed a bit with a front moving in, and I was alone. No one offered me a seat on the train or held the door for me; no one smiled or nodded or asked how old she was. It was just me and my book and the silver belly of the subway.
I remember a friend telling me that once you have a child you never sleep the same again. And it’s true–I seem to stay on the topmost layer of sleep, as if I’m barely skimming its surface, barely running my hand the length of it. My dreams are scattered and sporadic: steak houses, old haunts, beaches, but they leave me as quickly as I find them.
This morning when Eva woke I went to her and she seemed so small. She’s been growing and growing, and every day she seems bigger, but this morning I was reminded of how new she is to the world. I changed her and nursed her and held her, and she slept again while I watched her dreams pass over her face. That is what I’m doing still, watching her sleep, remembering what it was like to not be so starkly aware of being alone, remembering my old sleep, running my hand over the surface of my silver-bellied dreams.
Evabird, tomorrow you will have been on earth for 110 days, and so today we celebrated. There were roosters in the street and Chinese paper kites in the air; hot-tubbing after breakfast and chocolate-eating before dusk; and you, my sweet one, looked out into the ocean with the same blue wonder you look at everything. It has been 109 days since you were born, and in those days, a butterfly has landed on you; you’ve been to seven states and seen great art and known great love; you’ve stared out at the sea and sat under the Oklahoma sky. Happy birthday, my little love. May tonight’s dreams be your sweetest yet.
Have just packed up the tiniest swimsuit–for Eva not for me!!!–and am headed to Key West for a visit with an old friend. I can hardly imagine how Eva will feel after all these months of layers and layers of clothes and blankets, can hardly imagine how I’ll feel watching her face as she sees the ocean for the very first time. Hmm…sometimes I wonder what took me so long to have children…