O Evabird, yesterday you mastered the wave. For months, I’ve practiced with you, lifted your wrist and said over and over, Say Bye-bye. Say love you. For a while you turned your palm towards yourself and opened and closed your fingers. The other way, I said and turned your hand. Say Bye-bye to Daddy. Or Nana. Or Mimi. Or Poppy. Or Grandpa. Or Auntie CC. Bye-bye to whoever it was who had been with us and was leaving.
And so this morning, when I had to head back to work at NYU for the first time since you were born, it broke my heart a little to watch you wave at me. All day, if I closed my eyes too long, you’d be there waving. I bragged a little, and a dear friend declared saying goodbye a “useful skill.”
Much of the day, I took notes, wrote words like essay and glass and RAIN in all caps; sympathetic vibration; LOVE; arpeggio; dream. It felt good to find myself in another mind–an old familiar mind–but as good as it felt, towards the end of the day, I noticed something else: I had doodled birds all along the edges of the paper. Nothing exquisite or detailed, the same simple birds that littered all my childhood drawings, little more than upside down w’s, but there they were: everywhere.
In essay, we teach that if you’re truly engaged you can’t really leave something, that you have to return to it, that that original thing has done such work on your mind and your thinking that it has left an indelible mark on you. I think–at least in this instance–we may very well be right.
[Sometimes I think life would be more enjoyable if I stopped writing about it and started simply living it. In those moments, I reason that if my only self-imposed obligation was to be present I’d be able to understand the clouds differently; I’d hear Eva’s laugh more clearly; I’d really feel these breezes that keep blowing, that I keep telling her about, Ocean breeze, I say, or, hot summer breeze, or this is what the wind feels like in Oklahoma. Sometimes, I wonder if writing–and perhaps even speaking–removes us from where we are or delivers us where we want to be.
Other times, I eat a square of chocolate, brush my teeth then crawl in bed and read.]
I carry you in my heart
along the city streets,
and, oh your love, it makes me smile
at everyone I meet.
O Evabird, I thought you might forever smell like pears and lavender. Already you’re changing, already you smell of waffles and mango and sometimes chlorine or sleep or crumbs. I try to take in every bit of you before you change again, before you start smelling like sweat or salty ocean or running-through-the-fields, like cherry lip gloss or lollipops or Scratch-n-Sniff stickers, before you smell of drugstore perfume and backyard Truth-or-Dare, of places I’ve never seen, people I’ve never met.
Tonight when I was giving you your bath, I squeezed the water from the rag and watched the drops roll down your back and wondered what on earth it was I did all those days before you; I mean, I really wondered. I’m still wondering, and I can only guess that I’ll be wondering for a long, long time, at least until the days before you were so long ago that I can hardly even fathom them. Happy 261st day, my little wild-eyed wonder. So much of the world for you to see; so much of you to see the world. Sweet coconut cream dreams.