Monday, January 5, 2009

Then and now (Darling, I haven't changed a bit)

I'm a twirler. A dreamer. I can waft so deeply into the fluffy clouds of my own head that I forget the pressing concerns of real life. When we're in an unfamiliar locale my husband prefers to drive because I gawk so thoroughly he doubts the competence of my skills. I'm too preoccupied with what a beautiful cornice and what wonderful life spends evenings in a living room as beautiful as that?

Portrait of my past

This picture is from 1981. That's me, with my aunt and my brand-new uncle, to whom I had just certified our relationship. So says the family lore, I turned to him at that reception and declared: "Yesterday you were nothing but today you're my uncle." Charming, wasn't I? And yet he was gracious enough to let me ruin their cake-cutting picture.

Any former four-year-old girl will understand what happened here. Look at it: my dress was just so twirly.

I had been dancing by myself at the edge of the dance floor, happily twirling in that blissful, oblivious way that girls in good-spinning party dresses can, and I never noticed when the music stopped. And, I never noticed that I had dizzily veered far from the edge of the dance floor. And, I never noticed that the room had fallen silent. Suddenly my New Uncle scooped me in his arms, probably to save my serrated-knife-level corneas from irreparably damaging his relationship with his new extended family.

You see why my husband campaigns to Save the Pedestrians.

This morning we were running a little late (as usual) and I was in E's room helping her to get dressed. She picked out one of her favorite outfits, a dress covered in pictures of candy with matching tights and a matching sweater. So there she was, wearing her tights and still in the top half of her birthday suit when she improvised a Candy Dance, accompanied of course by the loveliest a cappella Candy Song.

(Lyrics, should you wonder, repeat endlessly in permutations of I love candy candy candy. That's a candy song!)

She was shimmying, her arms swung over her head, and without doubt she was in her head more than in her room. And I was swept along. Her eyes, oceanic. Her hair, so curlicue bedhead. Her song, so joyful for 6:anything AM.

She was metaphorically twirly, even if she was more literally belly-dancer-y. Maybe I should buy castanets for her upcoming birthday.

And then M stopped in the doorway to pull our hot-air balloon back to the ground. "Dude, do you know what time it is? Why aren't you getting her dressed?"

An entirely reasonable question from the man who is, after all, tasked with being my anchor.

So many blogs I read have posted New Year's resolutions. So many resolutions share the same theme: live more in the present. Treasure each moment. Reading these resolutions has paralyzed my own writing. I felt compelled to become resolute. Yet the more I think about it I really don't need or like resolutions. If anything, I excel at living in the moment. If anything my weakness as a parent is that I am so good at savoring each moment that I'm terrible at moving us along pragmatically.

But I have to get this year started on my keyboard, so I'm beginning it with the acknowledgement that I'm not a resolutions kind of girl. I don't excel at follow-through, anyway. I love to change plans mid-stream, to reprioritize, to be inventive.

On Friday night I was nearly asleep and I had the beginning of a dream in which E was in her entertaining mode and she did something, I couldn't remember upon waking exactly what it was, something that fell in the classic category of small child klutziness quickly improvised for laughter as if having been done deliberately, something that involved picking up a USB cord, maybe she was going to hand it to me, but it whipped around and the head hit her daddy in the forehead and her reaction was so genuinely surprised and yet filled with the biggest facial muscle movements, spun once she realized her father was okay, once she realized perhaps that we all realized it was an accident of motion, that she wasn't in trouble, spun into WHOA!! and how did that EVEN HAPPEN??, spun into her happiest, most dramatic best,

that I began giggling inside the dream and giggled so hard that I woke myself up.

Have you ever woken up giggling? That was my Friday night. That is my New Year. That is my life.

Why should I worry and plan when all by itself when all by itself, my life is this fun just the way it is?

So: there will be no resolutions, but instead I will dedicate 2009 as the Year of the Twirlers. I feel many adventures lying in the mists ahead... Pin It