“He still doesn’t sleep through the night?” is what she said to me, and I laugh. He does not, this 2-year-old diplomat.
He cries out, asks to be rocked, asks to be held, asks for a bottle, asks for a diaper change. While the world sleeps, he lures me into something different. I can’t accurately call it lovely, but I also can. There is quiet and dark, and once settled in the rocking chair, the memories arrive: eating sheet cake in Haiti, snow football on the quad, borrowing contraband crimpers from older sisters.
He drifts to sleep; I drift to thought. We rock and rock and rock, and I stay until I know he’s deep in rest.
Until I am, too.
Sabbath in the Suburbs by MaryAnn McKibben-Dana
Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
The World Treasury of Children’s Literature by Clifton Fadiman
Last month, our friends from L.A. arrive for an overnight visit. We drop the kids off at Grandma’s house and – four courses later – close down a favorite local haunt with apple cider coffee cake and decafs. We solve world peace over brussels sprouts, to say nothing of longstanding marital tiffs.
The next morning, we wave goodbye from the driveway with a greater understanding of each other, ourselves.
“Are they family?” Bee asks.
“They are,” I say.
All else is all else: hibernation mode activated. We’ve been puzzling, of course. Commenced the annual 100-balloons-for-no-good-reason, began busying ourselves in the kitchen. Homemade play-doh, a failed kinetic sand attempt. Broiling the turning weather with chip chicken in the oven, my grandmother’s carrot cake recipe on standby. Boots thawing on heat registers (still searching for the missing glove).
This morning, sleet is whirling around, tap-dancing on windows. I’d forgotten how lovely it is, this music.
Still, we’ve booked plane tickets for sunshine in January. A short respite from a sky the color of dishwater, from wind that bites. Yesterday, Scout tells me his elbow is cold, and I understand him.
Bee and I finished reading Little House on the Prairie last week, in the same week I began reading There, There, in the same month we celebrate a holiday that means many different things to many different people. We closed the book, and she asked what happened to the Indians.
“Getting us to cities was supposed to be the final, necessary step in our assimilation, absorption, erasure, the completion of a five-hundred-year-old genocidal campaign. But the city made us new, and we made it ours. We didn’t get lost amid the sprawl of tall buildings, the stream of anonymous masses, the ceaseless din of traffic. We found one another, started up Indian Centers, brought out our families and powwows, our dances, our songs, our beadwork. We bought and rented homes, slept on the streets, under freeways; we went to school, joined the armed forces, populated Indian bars in the Fruitvale in Oakland and in the Mission in San Francisco. We lived in boxcar villages in Richmond. We made art and we made babies and we made way for our people to go back and forth between reservation and city. We did not move to cities to die. The sidewalks and streets, the concrete, absorbed our heaviness. The glass, metal, rubber, and wires, the speed, the hurtling masses—the city took us in.”