Monday, December 8, 2008

Follow me, where I go

It's been tricky to feel the holiday spirit here, even though it's cooled down a bit because the rainy season has started. But I know what I've not got this year because I've felt it other years.

"It was nearly ten years ago at Christmastime I had an experience that only in the past year have I’ve been able to make sense of and make peace with."

Follow me here to find out what it was.

ps: oh shoot. It's too late this evening to try and reload that picture. Just tip your computer and it'll look right.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Smudge, Fleck, Dimple


Finn turned half a year old today. His eyes resolved into their resting colour a couple months ago. Fast, it seemed. Nondescript dark to a dark blue, kind of like mine. But also kind of like yours and kind of like Dad's because his left eye has a single brown fleck, on the inside towards the bridge of his stubby nose. Sometimes I forget to call him Finn and instead carry Fleck around all day. Do you remember telling me that time about how, to your in-love adolescent mind, it was "a sign" that you and Dad both had the same middle name, and both had a brown fleck in your blue eyes?

I've loved that little fleck because it's a little something permanent in this boy who will be nothing but change for years. And also a sign, a signal to me that I'm just as in love with this kid as I have been with that other one. A sign that even though I've engraved it in permanent ways much less than I did with Scout, the details of Finn's babyhood are important to me. For some reason I need to tell him and me (and you!) I notice them, notice them and love them.

He has started crawling. He has two teeth. He's an expert at juicy mouth noises. He's dimpled on every surface you'd expect a little baby pucker and some you wouldn't. A few patches of his baby hair never fell out, so there are these long whisps that curl out like loose downy feathers. Sometimes I can get freaked out by the way these kids act like hourglasses to my life. I push for them to get to some milestone, and then mope at the end of an era. Case in point: For the first time ever, Scout slept through the night by herself last night. (Can I hear a whoop whoop?) But both Andy and I have already expressed regret that we won't be cuddling her to sleep anymore. (Obviously not enough regret to not teach her to sleep through the night.)

I know he won't remember anything distinct about this time of life, but I wonder in what ways the smell of wet pavement, damp earth, sweat and soured butter; the night music of frogs and crickets and howling dogs; the soft sweetness of fresh ripe banana and mango; the sight of warm, smiling African faces pushed into his; I wonder how these will affect him. At what point, when he's eleven, or nineteen, or thirty-two, will a sight or smell or taste trigger the faded outline of a shadow's shadow of a memory that he can't even remember from these months here in Malawi. He'll be sitting on a bus somewhere and hear a voice that he remembers but can't place. He'll wonder if it's a case of deja vue or the memory of a dream.

And me? What will I remember? That's one reason why I have to write, and why I have to be as honest as I can. I end up believing the words I've written. I end up forgetting everything but the words I've written.

If Finn is ever going to be anything but the person he is at that moment, I have to record it in detail right now. Even then it's no guarantee. I barely remember anything about Scout from this last Spring, as impossible as it seems.

Thanks for calling on Thanksgiving. Sorry I couldn't talk. Tell Dad I hope his green chicken turned out as fabulous as his green turkey last year.

Love Joh