i saw it yesterday. just a flash, but i knew it just the same. we were at the doctor's office for collette's five year check up. he had just finished up and we were waiting for the nurse to come in to give collette her two shots. she was sitting on the table, and i was standing next to her. there was a brief conversation, do you want to hold my hand? yes. do you want your shots in the arm or the leg? arm. do you want to watch or do you want to put your head on my shoulder? watch. the nurse came in and stood by us. and that's when i saw it. collette sat up straight, squared her jaw and got ready for the shots. and the expression on her face. it was fleeting yes, but in that instant i realized it was an expression she will use her whole life long. every time she squares that jaw to take on something, it will be there. the same one at five years, 25 years, and lord help me 85 years. and it was heartbreaking and fantastic all at once. and i felt five myself and 25 and 85. and i squared my jaw and held her little tanned hand.
this is our last week of summer vacation. eliot starts school on monday and collette marches right on into kindergarten on wednesday. they are ready. they are more than ready, and here i find myself dragging my feet. kicking the dirt, listening to cicadas not wanting to let the time go. and i know now that a huge portion of my love of summer is my love of childhood. of the magic of summer. of the laziness and heat and sweat and boredom and joy of summer. last week i was in oklahoma for work, and tuesday evening i was roaming around a borders books looking for something. i was poking around the bargain table and found a book of greek mythology and i was whipped back in time to my 11 year old self. that summer i found a big book of mythology and i devoured it. i laid in my bed and read it cover to cover then started back at the beginning again. oh sure, i know zeus likes to dabble with pretty young ladies and do all these crazy things, but those were not the stories that held me. my favorites always were the stories that took something we know and found a different way to explain it. i love persephone the best. i love that greeks decided that the reason we have a winter is because she ate those six little pomegranate seeds, and for six months of the year her mother roams the earth in sadness, missing her daughter and the world goes cold because of it. how lovely is that? how much more fascinating is that than talk of axis and climate and seasons? and really isn't it the secret of childhood? that time when we are on the cusp of becoming adults and learning how the world really works, but we still have the stories. the bright explanations that make us laugh and clap our hands? don't get the idea that i live in a dream world. i very much live in the real world, with a real life and a real family. but there are times when i like to take a small retreat. and i indulge more so in the summer. and i love it. so i find myself sad that this is our last week. but what can i do but square my jaw and face it? if collette can, certainly i shall too.
(i've been reading a lot of steinbeck, can you tell?)