High on daiquiri and bravado, I follow a friend into a bar, a dark bar, narrow, one which, a few years back, would have held tightly in it’s fist that blue haze of cigarettes and cigar smoke. Now, it has only a few morose smokers huddled against it’s heavy doors, looking listlessly out into the rainy night. We squeeze through the awkward crowd of 80’s clad early twenty-somethings and father figure type bearded men and find seats at the very end of the bar, unfortunately positioned directly in front of the amps, from which poorly executed Johnny Cash covers are whining their way through the room.
A beer, a feisty red beer which sits so poorly in my overly fruited belly, and I stare before me into the small sweaty dance floor. The man playing the guitar mentions it’s “mother-daughter night” and I glance closer. So it is. So it is a group of smiling, shiny young girls are drinking and dancing and holding close their mothers. Mother’s who hold their daughters right back, whose eyes shine with pride and amazement that their daughter, THEIR daughter, is so perfectly beautiful and delicate, so explosive with life. So ready for what might come, hanging on the edge of tomorrow and the next day. Tangled in the hair of one with black hair is a white flower, glowing against her, the porcelain gaze of her skin made frothy almost. She shines, like the new leaves in spring, just from the bud. I find myself watching her in awe, trying to recall when I felt that simply alive.
To be those mothers now-not the daughters. That ship has sailed and frankly, i know what lives underneath the lovely dresses and perfect tresses. Doubt, fear-am I on the path I need to be? Will things be ok? Will I find love, happiness, truth, beauty? Will anyone ever love me? They were beautiful girls, but I focused on the women, the singular devotion, the quiet in their eyes. The sweet satisfaction that come from them, their strength passed on to their daughters, girls on the cusp of becoming women, of finding their footing and destiny. They were the sweet oracles of Delphi, their daughters, merely the handmaidens, for now.
It was as if a ritual, a letting go, a slice at the ribbon of childhood, allowing these mother’s to really see their daughters as the individuals they are, not just as the babies that once suckled at their breast or the rotten 13 year old’s who screamed “I hate you!” when denied the chance to see Outcast or Nelly. Watching these women, there was the sense of a job done, and done well. Satisfaction, and pride. The cubs were coming into their own, and were lovely, and strong.
They stumbled into each other, drunk, mother or daughter. And they laughed a laugh I have never laughed, but wish too more than anything. They saw each other only with love.
It was beautiful.
My darling second born, or Shiva, destroyer of worlds as we are apt to call her, turns four on Monday.
That’s right. FOUR. I turned around, and the universe put a stubborn, obstinate, flighty little GIRL in place of a cranky sweet baby.
Already I experience such joyous things as, when told she cannot do something, usually along the lines of, no, you cannot run with scissors, she’ll cry out “You never let me do ANYTHING! It’s NOT FAIR!”
Yeahhhh. At FOUR. Not 13. FOUR.
Or the constant battles about underpants and proper bathroom hygiene. We had a 20 minute argument/fight/screaming match due to both of us being tired over her wiping her own butt.
Since both of us are stubborn and always believe we’re the one who is right, I’m thinking the ages of 10-18 are pretty much going to suck. Hopefully she smokes more pot than I ever did, because lord, she is smart and wily and strong and pretty fucking awesome.
She’s lying next to me in my bed as I write this, unable to sleep due to having a small nap too close to bedtime. She’s sounding like she’s snoring, but it might be the horrid congestion that’s had me feeding her cough strips all day long to moderate the croup like barking. You know the cough-the one that makes all the other mother’s stare at you at the mall like you’re this pathetic mother for taking her outside, even though it’s only post nasal drip?
Yeah. You know the one.
I look at her and think about last night and cast my mind ahead 15 years or so, to a day, a weekend, a night where all of this doesn’t matter-the interrupted sleep, the inability to remember to get to the bathroom 30% of the time, the screaming over nothing. I think ahead to how lovely her eyes are, and how they’ll burn with fire when she’s 20 and on the verge of taking everything by the horns. I think of her strong legs, and how she’ll maybe be a runner, and fly like the wind, the wind I could never quite take hold of.
I think ahead to that life where we have a beer, then maybe 5, and laugh about where I’ve been, and where she’s going, and all the wonderful, horrible, incredible places in between. We’ll see each other, in the strangest places, in the hairline, the wrinkles at the edges of our eyes. I’ll think of my mother, the empty placeholder between us, and wish she could see her granddaughter, be there to correct her posture and grammar. But I’ll see my mother in Rosalyn, her strength, in their inability to take no for an answer. I think ahead to us in a dim bar, age narrowing to where it no longer matters, on a plane of is and was and will be.
I think of how beautiful she will look, teetering on the edge of all her tomorrows.
Dammit, she’s FOUR! Which makes me 32 this year, which makes me feel time speeding past me so fast I can’t hardly catch my breath. She was just this giant baby in my arms, a sturdy toddler. Now, she’s this gorgeous creature who looks so much like me I get confused. How could something so lovely, and yet so very immovable and strong be brought forth from me? My heart breaks at little bit, thinking of how bewitching she is, how sublime. How marvelous her future will be.
She’s the creature most like me, mercurial in her moods, loud in her upsets, sweet in her love. She’s the me who was, or as close to it as I might come.
And I love her, both.