The Blue Pitcher

that which may be filled and emptied

Month: November, 2009

One Year

O Eva, last night we slept with the sliding glass doors open, and in between dreams, I heard the waves wash in and out. I had thought by now that you’d be entirely weaned, but here on vacation, sleeping between dad and me, it seems you’re nursing more than ever. Every day I remember I know nothing (and everything) about mothering. It’s been one year. Yesterday, you ate cake and rolled in sand and laughed wildly when we played the bumblebee game, and the day before, you sailed on a boat and saw stingrays and drank Sprite through a straw. Right now, you’re sitting on the floor looking at your favorite book, and soon, we’ll take a long walk on the beach before heading back to the home we love. I can feel the days and years layer on top of each other, can feel the infinite pull of my love for you. Happy birthday, my dear sweet bird. Signing off on The Blue Pitcher for a while; I’d rather be sitting on the floor reading books with you.

***Thanks, readers. Gone fishin’. Don’t know when I’ll make it back.***

Day 362

Or the day of sand in your belly button; the day of pineapple and ice cubes and sail boats; the day of thanks; of great thanks; of last year on this day going into labor with you; day of monkey bread and mango and so much love; of gratitude; of wondering if I ever even knew what gratitude was before I knew you; day of who-loves-you-baby-who-loves-you-baby-who; day of you-mama-you-mama-you.

Day 360

(not taking it too well)

Day 359

Day 358

I love it when you walk on sand.

Day 357

I love it when you hold my hand.

Fever

Pressing my wrist to Eva’s forehead to feel for heat, time collapses. My wrist becomes my wrist five years from now, checking for fever, the days gone short, the blinds pulled tight; becomes my mother’s wrist when I was a girl; becomes Eva’s wrist when I’ve grown old. So much held in the body, in the delicate pulsing skin. You’ll be okay, I say to her–my mantra, my promise–we’ll all be okay.

Day 351

O Evabird, your 351st day. Or, the day you ran a fever so high I cried, Or, the day that was two weeks shy of your first birthday, Or, the day you held my hand and walked the length of the park, Or, the day you ate sweet potatoes and apples and french fries and olives and buried your head into my chest, into your dad’s chest, into the whole world’s chest, Or, the day I kept saying over and over I love you because suddenly it seems you’re so full of understanding. I love you, I love you, I say. And yes, you seem to say. Yes,yes, yes, you do. And yes, yes, yes, I do.

Poly(methyl methacrylate)

I teach on the fourth floor of NYU’s Bobst Library. The library is an atrium design with twelve floors of balconies overlooking the main floor. I remember years ago, when I was a graduate student, staring down from a balcony for the first time: the black and and gray and white tiles form a mosaic of spikes. For a long time, there was a rumor that the floor’s design psychologically kept people from jumping. But then people started jumping. Students threw themselves onto the spiked floor. One by one. From the balconies. Dying on impact. So the design theory was shot.

In recent years, the view from the balconies has become clouded by the plexiglass that extends up 10 feet on each floor. This plexiglass, school officials believed, would keep more students from jumping. But then last week, a junior scaled the plexiglass wall and he too threw himself from a balcony.

Yesterday when I went to teach, I was greeted by a security guard. He smiled from the bench outside the elevator; I smiled back. A couple of hours later, between classes when I went out for tea, I saw him again. He smiled. I looked up at each floor of the library, and through the plexiglass, I saw that on each floor was a security officer. Their job, I guess, was to wrestle down anyone who tried to scale the wall.

The whole scene was haunting. It made me wonder why the school hadn’t extended the plexiglass all the way to the ceiling on each floor; perhaps even more, it made me wonder why they had thought plexiglass would solve anything at all.

I have to admit: now that I’m a mother, teaching feels different. I have less sympathy for my students, less time and energy, but, at the same time, I love them more; they seem more capable than ever of bringing me joy or sorrow. I think I used to equate them with me (how PAINFUL to get a B!) but now I’m more inclined to think about Eva at their age (and if she earns a C she deserves it!).

And so yesterday–thinking of my students looking up at each guarded floor and of the guards looking over at each of my students–it broke my heart a little that none of them had likely ever seen the library when it was a true atrium. They only see it as it is now: glassed in–a protective coat that fails to protect–and almost eerily devoid of echoes.

I sipped my tea at the front of the room. At one point, I had to sit on my hands to keep me from reaching out to them. I’m sorry, I wanted to say, and I wanted to say it loud enough that it would bounce off the walls and land deep inside of them. Instead, I drew squares on the board and talked about textual integration until my tea grew cold. Then, one by one, they gathered their things and left.

New York: A Love Story

It was 1996, and I was dating a poet who lived in Spanish Harlem. I called him Blue, and he called me Miriam and left little notes all over my apartment. I’d go to light a cigarette or open the fridge for juice, and there I’d find–in his scribbled hand–a tiny fading note. I found them for years, actually: Trumpet, or, The sky was crooked, or, This is not a metaphor: my heart is full.

But the night I’m remembering we were in his apartment, his tiny, dirty apartment. It was late October, and I was wearing that old army jacket, and we were sitting on a futon mattress on the floor trying to break up. He was crying; I was sopping up pizza grease with a paper napkin. You, he said, are the coldest person I have ever known. (This haunted me for years. Am I cold? I’d ask people, particularly after wild displays of warmth.)

And then, suddenly, in the midst of one of our painful long silences, we heard something coming from outside. The whole city was going wild. Horns honked, and music played, and we ran to the window and pushed it open and let the cold air rush in. The streets were filled with people celebrating. “What the hell happened?” my poet yelled.

We were lost, two flights up, wild-haired in the wind. A man looked up at us. “The Yanks just won the World Series, you #**##%! idiots!” Before we knew it, we were out in the street, holding hands and laughing and the whole city was on fire. Those moments were so magical–so alive and spirited–that we stayed together for a couple of months–me and the poet–and while we never did manage to fall in love, it was that night that I fell so hard for New York that I knew that I’d never want to leave.