It's bathtime. I'm downstairs at my computer, working, separated from them by enough vertical space to call this away. The baby monitor is on, though. We keep the base in the upstairs bathroom, a neutral location that allows us to hear post-bedtime stirrings from each of the bedrooms. The listening end is down here, but in the other room.
He herds them into the bathroom and I hear it all, sounds blended together, echoing the way things do in a bathroom. Fed through these wires, amplified and distorted, the decibles rise and fall with a pitch that spikes in screeches and what sounds like some major squall. If I was new to this house, I might put my work on hold to race up there and see what's going on. But I live here. I know. This is earsplitting -- but nothing, really.
I could get up and turn the monitor off. The sound is really invading my space, magnified like this. But I don't. It's not really bothering me.
Which is interesting, because when I'm right there at the center of things, discord sounds like this to me all the time -- turned up, too loud, piped right into my face. It rubs over all my surfaces like sandpaper until everything I try to keep in starts oozing out, drop by drop, collecting in my eyelashes and filling my mouth so I can't see or breathe.
And I can't turn it off.
I don't know if I could stay home like that. It a statement but also a question, tangled up with unknown parts respect, disbelief, and determination. I wonder if she means I have a different constitution.
Well, we all do what we do. It's my best response. If I'm feeling more honest than that, I might laugh and admit that I don't know how I do it either, sometimes. But if I'm feeling soulfully honest I might say -- like this --
The late morning sun saturates the living room rug and leaks all over the floor. We're sitting up to our chins in it, the two littles and I, and it's splashing in our eyes. I reposition the dollhouse so our backs are to the windows but light still glances blindingly off the shiny plastic surfaces.
They complain a little. I ignore them.
Because I can't move. I'm transfixed. The sun radiates off their heads, highlighting each strand of hair and hurting my eyes. I see them like this:
Illuminated. On fire. Metamorphosing every second. So bright my eyes ache and water. I blink twice and they've both moved out of the direct light and the effect is gone. But the image is burned into my retinas.
Into my heart.
-- like this.