Source: Ziggy Dragnev on Vimeo
Dear Baby ( Since I don’t know your name yet, I hope you don’t mind me referring to you like this. ),
This is the first letter I’m writing you. I once read that some traditional tribes sustain the belief that babies got to pick their parents. I had laughed at the idea, but now it seems plausible. I imagine you sitting in the sky with angels, skimming through a huge, leather bound catalog that contains photographs of potential mothers. Under each photograph there is a short description. The angels turn the pages with utmost patience. You look at all the candidates…
“Not this one,” You say. “No, not this one either.”
Doctors, engineers, housewives and business women pass before your eyes. Even though there are highly eligible candidates, women who do their jobs well and are very accomplished, you ignore them.
Just then the angel turns another page and my picture pops up. It is not a very good photo of me, my hair is a mess – again – and my makeup is slapdash. I’m wearing my onion clothes. Under my picture is a description: Head pickled, chaotic personality, prone to moments of irrationality, has yet to find herself, is actively searching for answers. Loves telling stories.
Pointing your tiny little finger at my face you remark, “This one could be fun. Let me take a closer look at her.”
I don’t know why you ended up picking me out of all the potential mothers in the universe. Maybe you are a crazy kind of girl/boy. You find the idea of a perfect mother boring. Or, you already know me better than I know myself. Maybe you see the potential in me. Maybe you want to help me overcome my shortcomings. You can be my guide, my best teacher. ( You all have been.)
Like I said, I don’t know why you chose me, but I want you to know that I’m honored. I hope I will never make you regret your decision and say, “Of all the moms in the univers, why did I pick this one? ”
Your loving mom who looks forward to your arrival.
~ Elif Shafak, Black Milk. Translated by Hande Zapsu
J, H, M, & L, I’m blessed by you.
Photo: Winter 2016.
It just so happened this morning when I was opening the curtains and windows in the bedroom that I realized I haven’t heard them yet…
The 12 years we’ve lived here a pair of mourning doves built a nest between the two bed-room windows every summer. There is no way for me to know for sure if it’s the same pair every year.
I’ve been sitting quietly reading, uninterrupted, for the past 5 hours. The past hour I’ve gotten sleepy, time for a nap, but I just can’t put Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya down. Not after I read, “But what is the world really made of, Daddy?”
Then when Silence got real silent, her sound landed like a kiss between my shoulders. I looked up, then back to the book. Then another kiss, and a third. I put the book mark in. Walked three steps to the window, and she was right there. Two feet from my face.
She’s back. It’s officially summer in my soul, as of right now.
Of summer’s intoxicating symphony of lights and sounds, she’s the Cello. She’s the Cello to my summers.
“A room with a view,
waiting for the words,
waiting for Spring to flutter its wings in my chest.
Such is the longing today.”
~ Lone Mørch
Photo: Our cat, Purrsimmon, as in persimmon the fruit.
Two things inspired this. Looking at new apartments to move. Our youngest starts high school in the fall and we would like to make her commute a little easier and safer. Also, especially in the winter months, maybe she’ll be able to stay under covers in the mornings a little longer. Second, work needing me to spread the same number of working hours over 6 days rather than five. I would like the same hours in 4 days, maybe even 3!
We’ve been living in this apartment, my sacred home, my holy sanctuary, my little castle for the past 12 years. The longest I’ve lived in one place my whole life, second longest is 5 years. When we first saw it, and as soon as we walked through the door, my husband said, “This is it!”. I didn’t really like it. But we had to move and we had to do it fast. My parents-in-Law were moving in with us from back home and we needed a bigger place, first floor ASAP. Mom can’t go up the stairs. The day of the move and after the movers almost put everything on the truck, I said goodbye to our old place. That old place I lived in for 3 years I’ll never forget. But that’s another story.
I took some valuables and drove the car to our new place. I was by myself for about an hour and I was tired. The one who’s starting highschool in the fall was only 2 and she was spending the day with my stepdaughter and her mommy. No cup to make coffee or tea. No cover. No chair to sit on yet. It was in the corner of the dining room that I sat and leaned my back on the wall. Then ended up laying down on the floor.
The walls talked. And I couldn’t stop crying. That was when I fell in love with this place.
The movers came. Filled the place with our boxes. When the 2 year old came to see it later for the first time she ran around to discover. It’s a rare setup. Every room has two doors. More hallways than necessary. This three-bedroom two-bathroom apartment has 27 windows and 13 doors.
The walls in all the places we’re seeing now are not talking. It’s too silent.
Then yesterday morning I got a text from the 22-year old. “Mom, I just saw you in a dream. Missing you!”
He then immediately called. I was telling him how I now only get Sundays off. How work is not letting me put my hours in five days. “Mom, it’s ok. It’s in our blood. We can do it Habeebti, my love in Arabic. You’re like your father. I’m like you.”
But how do I tell him?
That walls do talk…
That the floors miss our feet. And the walls look for us. That the sink longs for my touch. The curtains and windows ache to be opened and looked through. That the chairs want to wrap their arms around us. That this dinning room misses all of us, misses you most. The echo is very loud and the only thing that can silence it is new noise, or new walls!
How do I tell him?
That walls do talk…
The beautiful young woman who makes my coffee at the one café near work asked, “What perfume do you have?”, with her womanly from the core of earth Ethiopian voice and lilt.
“Which one? The one on me all over, or the one on my wrist? ”
I walked closer to her and gave her my wrist. I didn’t touch her but could feel the warmth of her face. I felt her breath on my skin.
She said, “Not this one!”
I told her what the other one was and that the one always on my wrist is Terre D’Hermés for men.
“Is it your husband’s or boyfriend’s?”
“No. It’s mine!”
“Why do you like it?”
“Something about the scent takes me back home. It smells like earth. Not like earth when it rains. Like earth in your mouth.
You know? have you ever pulled a radish or a carrot straight from the dirt? And eaten it without washing it? That taste and the smell that rises to your nose. That is exactly what it reminds me of. Or, a ripe fig that fell from the tree, covered in dirt. You can’t possibly wipe all the dirt off. That is exactly what Terre D’Hermés smells like to me.
It smells like the beautiful taste of dirt in my mouth.”
His window looks North. The room I slept in looked South.
How Human they are, my Mother & my Father. How beautifully Human.
Not “only” human!
Delightfully, seductively and sensually Human, with needs and desires. There were times my parents forgot I was there with them last month. Their conversations in the middle of the night! The laughing and the flirting. They so forgot I was there.
In Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Márquez said, “She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them. ”
Few Sundays ago watching the sunrise looking southeast out my window, I realised one does not love one’s parents because they are one’s parents but because of the friendship formed when they’re done raising them. When the dependency is gone.
There is a different kind of love now. A friendship that makes me not want to come through anyone other than my Mother and Father, if I were to come again.
* photo: Montréal, January 2017