Friday, August 20, 2010

moments to live for

She waits all day.
It starts like this:

I get off the couch and walk to the kitchen to make the girls' breakfast. She follows. Now?

I head to my bedroom to get dressed. She's at my heels. Maybe now?

Bedroom to bathroom. Bathroom to basement. Back up again. Into the baby's room. Down the hall. Outside. Inside.

I move through the day, a sequence of transitions, and she is my shadow. She is hope made material. A quivering emotion under thick black fur. 

She's already curled up for the night when her moment comes. I jiggle the leash in front of her and the sound pulls her out of her dreams and into a dream.

We walk.

She lives.

Home again, we walk past the front door and into the backyard – I have to put something away. She's still on the leash. When we head back to the door, mission accomplished, she trots down the driveway like she's going again but her collar jerks and she realizes she's at the end of the line and the line's not coming with her. I have to pull her inside.

She stands just through the doorway, panting. Eyeing me suspiciously. She won't budge, even for a treat.

I wonder what's wrong with her but it's written all over her face – she's still waiting for it. She forgot all about the walk. Her golden moment. The only thing she really lives for.

She thinks I teased her, that I dangled the walk in front of her face and then put the leash away.

She finally stalks off to her cushion but continues to eye me with distain. I chuckle at her density and her short memory.

She huffs and circles three times, surrendering to the realities of settling in for the night.

It's quiet. I sigh. This, right here, is my golden moment. When the day's dust finally settles and the noise and the demands are abed for the night.

But this isn't all I live for. Because tomorrow, when it starts all over again and I'm up to my eyebrows in diapers and errands and tattling and sweeping and dishes, I will forget that I ever sat here. Peaceful. Still.

I love the end of the day but I live for other moments, the ones that are woven into the everydayness of the day, the ones that surprise me out of a monochromatic mindset with their bright colors. Snapshots that I want to write down and pin up.

Like these:

I'm on the floor with the baby. She crawls into the side-lying laundry basket and peeks through a hole in its side. Sees me. Belly laughs. She sticks her fingers through the hole and I nibble them and she laughs again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I mentally record the soundtrack of her simple joy.

Now, I'm walking ahead with dog and stroller and baby and John is supervising the girls on their bikes on this sidewalk on this hill. Claire is laughing – unafraid of speed for the very first time. And Eliza—she's a picture—hair blowing, too-big dress hanging off her left shoulder, clutching her tiny bike and pedaling pedaling pedaling while John coaches brake brake brake. She has no fear of bumps or busy roads—dangerous that way—and she glows with confidence and exuberance and a blind, total-body trust. I tuck her face into my pocket so I won't forget.

Home, I take the dry, crispy laundry off the line. A white shirt hangs cast in orange – backdrop to a neon light? No, it's the sunset, glowing so bright the shirt is practically a mirror. Breath held, I steal a quick snapshot for my collection.

Flash forward hours later and I'm lying on the floor, hips cushioned, legs up the wall. I can't sleep – again. But the hardwood floor is cool under my outstretched arms and the blood draining from legs to head slows my thinking and massages my brain. I'm awake – which is not what I want at all – but I hang onto this moment anyway. The stillness imprints upon my consciousness, tracing grooves for me to finger tomorrow, when I'm in the thick of things.

Finally I go to bed. I fall asleep (a golden moment), filled to the brim with everything I live for. Love for.