Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flavor of the Day

We're out and about, running errands. A request rings out from the back of the van.

Mama, can you check the flavor of the day?

Not that we're going to stop for ice cream right now, but Claire just likes to know.

I bet it's butter pecan. It seems like every time we drive past, it's butter pecan.

Yuck. [She's not a fan of nuts in her ice cream.]

We get close enough to read the sign. I'm right.


Today was utterly forgettable.

I talked to some people. Ate some stuff. Went a few places. Thought a lot. Did a few things. Ate some more. Cleaned up. The end.

I woke. I lived. I went to bed. [Well, not yet.]

This day slid off the calendar and into a pile of similarly structured days. Ordinary. Indistinguishable. Filed in a mental drawer labeled When the Kids Were Little.

And that's not a bad thing, the ordinariness of today. It's just that I'm quite certain the forgetting will happen.

I'll forget that the girls were inducted into the Super Smiles Club at the dentist this morning. I'll forget the particular, muted brand of panic on Claire's face in the school office when we stood there dropping off forms and learning how to pronounce her new teacher's name. I'll forget that we spent an hour cleaning up the jungle of toys in the basement. That Eliza broke a dish after lunch when she tried to carry too much to the sink. That Ruthie napped for over two hours (!). That I bought a new book. That we went out for ice cream. That Eliza curled up in John's lap while we all waited for Claire to finish her cone. That the dog curled up in John's lap while he read bedtime books to the girls. That I feel too awake right now to fall asleep and I'd rather stare at this screen than the black ceiling.

I'll forget all that.

50 days will blur those details, and the edges that are so crisp in my mind right now will all run together like too-wet watercolors. In 50 years, those details will have disappeared entirely under the weight of so many pages turned.

That's just the way it is. The way memory works – our minds can't hold all the minutia that minute-by-minute living generates.

But I'm pretty sure the flavor of the day will linger. Not as a taste that I'll be able to distinguish from tomorrow's flavor – which will be subtly different, no matter how similar it looks. But it will be a flavor that I'll be able to trace back to days like these, home with the kids.

I will always be able to point to some hard spots. Sour streaks, even. But the majority of my days are sweet. Ordinary, maybe. But classic and full and satisfying.

Vanilla, for sure.

A flavor I really, really like.