Lately, we've been spending all our afternoons in the backyard with the water balloons.
I estimate I have filled upwards of 300 water balloons over the course of three days.
The girls call them 'eggs' or 'pets'. Ayla has figured out how to twist them so they have two bulbs. She draws eyes and mouths on them and calls them 'piggies' or 'baby birds'.
She doesn't remember when she was my baby bird, stretching that hungry mouth wide, rocking her weak little neck back and forth in search of food.
Lately I have been calling Indy "little traveler". Come here, little traveler. Let me hold you, little traveler. Here's your juice, little traveler. I don't know where this nickname came from. Ayla is, of course, "little bird".
I think because one day, I want my chickies to fly.
Lately I have been drinking way to many extra coffee caramel frappucinos. We're talking like, one every other day. The people at all the Starbucks in town, and the Daz Bog, know me by face. Some by name. They finally ask me what I'm studying. I quite nervously tell them I'm writing.
I downplay it. Oh, it's just my little habit. Something I do in my free time, you know, when I'm not with my kids.
I think if I was a man, I wouldn't play it off so lightly. Women are always afraid to take credit for our work.
You call yourselves crafters. You are artists. You call yourselves scrap-bookers. You are record keepers, memory holders, historians. You call yourselves 'just stay-at-home moms'. You are sculptors and authors of life. Of person. Of self.
Isabel Allende had four books published before she called herself 'Author'.
We should learn from that mistake.
Lately I go up and down, up and down. Let me tell you something: If you have the gall to ask the universe for possibility, you just might get it. New changes every day. The horizon expands and closes with each swell of the sea. You will bob relentlessly in your little boat. Don't feel bad when you grasp to the edge of the rail, sick, peering into the endless deep.
It is, after all, to be expected.
Lately I read a lot of smut, and it turns my brain to jello. And all I can think of, then, is Julia Roberts.
I'm gonna go ahead and be comfortable with my intellect jello. Call it a survival skill, if you will.
Lately, I just want to lay in bed with my warm little puppies and read them books. Ayla has discovered the pleasures of Junie B. Jones. This is to my unsurpassed delight. Junie B Jones rants about the 'stupid smelly bus' and the new 'dumb bunny baby'. She get's ticked if you forget her 'B', and she's pretty sure she can beat up that Jim. That Jim she hates. For the first time, Ayla sees herself reflected back to her in a character. What a miracle. That first connection: There is someone in the universe who knows me, who sees me, who IS me. Who holds facets of my self.
Reading is showing her, for the very first time, that she is not alone. Reading has named a truth of her life.
Who knew that Truth went by "Junie B."?
Right now Junie B. is to Ayla as Tori Amos is to me.
Lately, Noah and I are still trying to find a place to live.
Lately, I dream of vacations.
I reach a point where I have to remind myself that I can't just unravel, spool out, let every bad thing run loose in me and grow wild. I have to hold it together for my daughters. For my husband. Little Bird and Little Traveler are more important than my immediate needs. Than any of my immediate pain or discomfort.
If I let them, they will remind me that it's fleeting.
They do this from the moment they are born. They will cry with almighty gusto. They will unleash a hurricane the likes of which the world has never seen*, right inside your very own living room. Scream like they are calling down the terrible power of all the gods and goddesses of dark things, of pain, of wrath.
Then they will find it: Skin. Warmth. Breast. Succor. Love.
They don't waste another moment feeling sorry for themselves. They don't ask, why was I without food a moment ago? Why was I without love?
Goodness is offered and they take it in with total abandon.
They hold it now, and they are held.
They remind me: that's all that matters.
*Here I have paraphrased a line from Elizabeth: The Golden Age. As with all lines, it sounds much better when delivered by Cate Blanchett.