Tuesday, October 26, 2010

September Child, October Ache

Autumn surprises me again with the same pain, the ache as I watch another year pass. It’s the same every time. The clarity of the air and light. Sound of a distant train, metallic, resonant down in the West Bottoms. Clatter of leaves, pull of wind. All of October, all these diamond minutes passing brilliant and lost. And now October is over also. Now November and the tail end of the season.

It makes me hurt: that I will never get this year back. This precious year. That it passes even as I watch and listen—strain my eyes, strain my ears.

It seems to me that October almost doesn’t exist in and of itself: it stands as a monument to lost things, is lost itself. Every October I am bombarded by memories, almost overwhelmed with nostalgia. I was surprised the other day to come across a photo of my husband and myself—one of the first ever taken of us together. We are no more than seventeen or eighteen years old. We are standing by the lake, at sunset, visibly nervous, arms awkwardly around each-other’s wastes. Fresh faces scared. This was not even ten years ago. But nearly ten years ago. And it’s lost—as lost as if it were one hundred, one thousand years ago.

Or yesterday as I walked it all came back to me suddenly—a cold Fall in Chicago when we were in college: down-town, the lake ice, the steel skyscrapers, blue everywhere. Russian tea and black bread in some restaurant I forget its name.

I forget its name. I forget the taste on my tongue. Even memory cannot preserve this. Even memory leaves me.

So the season is passing. Autumn falls on us so beautiful, and beautiful only because it passes and passes quickly, speaks of things passing.

It’s fitting, then, that Harriet is a Fall baby. I find I cannot keep her either. She is growing up and leaving before my eyes. And why is it that you can’t write about babies without falling immediately into cliché? These sentiments, repeated by a million million mothers for a million years. How quickly they grow up. Treasure treasure treasure this moment, for it will pass, and no matter how you treasure it, clutch it close, hold it tight, it will escape you. This child will never come back to you. You will be left an old woman with your memories.

But I understand now. I understand those clichés. Oh how I love her—her face as she sleeps, her smell, her heavy head knocking soft against my neck, her small noises, her little fists. Her face at this moment—now, this instant!—and the moment is gone. Lost—as if it happened one hundred, one thousand years ago.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Brookside Baby Names

After nine months of baby-naming stress (i.e. arguments, tears, second guesses, etc), I am very happy to give my baby-naming obsession a bit of a rest. However, my name-sensitive ears still can't help perking up when an interesting moniker comes their way.

Before I gave birth to our darling Hattie P. I spent quite a bit of time at the pool (i.e. fancy country club that I don't belong to, but had the temporary pleasure of using), where I listened intently as well-groomed mothers with perfect tans called to their brilliantly blond little darlings as they frolicked in the water. Names here included many lovely and classic appellations such as:


and so forth. Now I very much love each and every one of these names. But as I listened and took note, I began to worry that my own sweet baby "Harriet" would feel a bit odd amongst her peers...and thoughts of taunts and teasing occurred to me (i.e. "HAIR-y" Harriet). These country club cubs stirred up quite a bit of anxiety, and almost caused me to back down on our Choice completely. I am happy that my husband held firm, insisting on the virtues of the lovely "Harriet."

After this crisis, many things happened. Harriet was born and named and that was that. We also moved to a new neighborhood, which is a bit...funkier...and a little less country-club. AND where the parents name their babies a bit differently. I am happy to announce that Harriet "Hattie" Winter will not be the odd-baby-out in her play group. Names I have heard recently include:

Claudia and Stewart (siblings)

Today I joined the neighborhood mothers' association, where I found even more graciously named children:

Victor and Josephine
Oliver and Juliet
Faye and Evelyn
Henry and Amelie
Valene and Phillip
Hudson and Neva
Constance and Zooey
Soren (yes folks, as in Kierkegaard!)

...just to name a few. Methinks Harriet will fit right in!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anna from New York

My lovely friend Anna came from New York to see me in Kansas City. We did a bit of wandering around the metropolis. It's not New York, but it's home.

Anna and I have been friends for 18 years. So she gets to be Harriet's "auntie."

She is Sleeping. And I should be happy about it.

Harriet is sleeping. Why am I not full of rejoicing? I should be in a state of bliss. She is sleeping. She is SLEEPING. She has been sleeping for over TWO HOURS. Elysium! Freedom!--yes?

Why am I nervous? Why am I full of nameless dread? Because, my friends, this
could suddenly turn into this:
OR because if she sleeps all day then she could look like this


But I can't wake her up. She is too precious. I can't disturb this precious thing.