Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The girls after swimming, August 2009
We went to the pool today to catch the end of summer.
It ends next week when the girls start school. I hate the way they schedule school. It should go two weeks into June when it's still not hot here anyway. Then the kids wouldn't have to to back until September.
September is the proper month for school starting. No one should be putting on their backpack and walking to class until that chill is in the air. Until the light has changed.
But any day now, it will start to.
I read an article in which a man said "Summer for me is all about the search for the perfect peach. You find it, you eat it, it's gone."
It's enough to make you melancholy until you remember: Peaches come back every August.
I remember the last time I ate a perfect peach. It was August and we were living with Mr.V's mom (for the first time) at the old farm house in Windsor. Ayla was on her way to turning one and not yet walking. She'd scoot around those hard wood floors in the onesies I didn't like and saved for days at home. She still had curly hair and I loved it so. I was reading "Angry Housewives Eating BonBons" and "The Bergdorf Blondes". You know it's a time of stress for me when my reading material goes light. We were eating a lot of spicy dumplings from Hunan Taste back then. Noah was doing some kind of labor (it wasn't clear to me exactly what even then) building a massive house for the Barr's of Spradley-Barr Ford, where I had been working when I met him, at 20. When he got home--around three or four back then, but it always felt like he'd been gone for ages--we'd put Ayla on the trampoline and bounce her around. I'd tell him what I did all day. (Chased after Ayla, read chick lit, watched the marriage of Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson slowly dissolve on their reality show.)
I bought the Palisade peach at Safeway and ate it in that little room with the Murphy bed and the dust bunnies and the big view of the sky. I went back that night and bought more.
There's a good chance I've eaten other perfect peaches since then, but that's the one I remember.
Hunan Taste is called something else now and no one lives in that little farm house off the country road. That was the house where Mr. V fell out of a tree and bruised his own perfect peaches all black and blue. The house where we'd sit on the back steps eating Mercy's fried pepperocinis. We saw clouds that looked like jellyfish. The house where Ayla fell head first out of the deep bathtub. The house by the road that I drove down to get Noah and Josh the black lab jumped out the car window when I was going 55 and I thought I'd killed the family dog and it would have been the second one to die that summer. The attic was full of bats and the upstairs bathroom smelled of guano but we could watch them in the evenings when the sky went violet and the grass grew cool. We would lie on our backs staring at the sky.
I don't miss that house. The man getting maudlin about the peaches just made me remember.
I put down the article and looked around. There in front of me Ayla was splashing in the pool. Her hair is stick straight now, her limbs have lost their plump and gone gangly. She wanted me to watch her first real attempts at swimming. I held up her back and she smiled, eyes squinted, at the sky. Every few seconds she'd kick and sink, but I always caught her. She doesn't trust the water yet. She still trusts me.
Indy asked if I wanted to see her "super cool show". The show was her slapping the water and twirling with her arms in the air. But oh, how she smiles. Back at the farm house there was no Indy, and I remember: what a miracle, to have this little person in front of me. Fragrant and soft, like all late harvests. I don't remember who I was before them. I don't know how to live without them. Ayla lifted herself out of the water and curled up on the pavement in the sun. She burrowed into my thighs and belly like she used to as a baby. The hair on her back was thick and downy, like a peach.