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Each feather it fell from skin

December 4, 2011

My flight back last night was unusually quick. We arrived 45 minutes early, which for a two hour flight is pretty damn early. Waiting in the gate at LaGuardia, I sat next to a mother with her young son, maybe 5 or 6 years old. The boy was taking his first flight and was so excited, he gave himself the hiccups, which he suggested could be cured by hanging upside-down. He crawled onto his mom’s lap and she gamely hung him upside-down by his legs, his blond hair pointing toward the floor. He waved at me. I waved back.

AJ was texting me on my way home from the airport in the cab. When are you coming? Where are you? When will you be home? He was waiting in the window when I arrived. He and I took a walk in the dark under a blanket of stars, lighting our way with flashlights. We walked down to the ponds, crossed over the bridge and headed to the gazebo and back again.

Today I went to a baby shower for fairlywell at her husband’s mother’s house. It seems like we were all just there for her wedding shower. This time there were no bloomers, only a preponderance of pink things. Fairly well looked magnificent and Mr. Fairlywell acquitted himself well, despite being the only male in the house full of 40 women. It’s good practice for daughters, DJ. You’ll do just fine.

In addition to the presents AJ and I picked out for them (AJ was completely charmed by the tiny baby things, although I did have to talk him out of a onesie in mock Apple font that said “iPooed”), we gave them AJ’s Moses basket. It is both liberating and difficult to see the old things go. We have many pictures of AJ in that basket, as he spent a lot of time there in his first months. I especially remember a trip down to visit my parents when AJ must have been just under a year old. He was almost too big for it, but it was still a useful place for him to sleep. We put it on the floor next to our bed and every morning we’d look down and there he’d be grinning and wiggling his arms and legs to be picked up. It’s much easier to let things go to people whose own good memories you’d like to encourage and bless. I hope the new babyloaf, as fairlywell’s been calling the little girl to be, likes it.

I talked to fairlywell’s mother at the shower about our mutual acquaintance, AJ’s teacher who had been one of her first students when she began teaching. She also asked about my experience in New York and I told her about sleeping on an air mattress in an artist’s studio hung with half-finished canvasses. “That sounds like a short story. Something someone like Harriet should write.” And then she remembered that I am Harriet. The pseudonym becomes complicated at parties where people know me best through my online incarnation. I sometimes wonder if it is psychologically problematic that this doesn’t bother me much, that I consider myself a collective. But I can’t say I worry about it much.

And today we are headed first to AJ’s first basketball practice of the season and then on to our town’s annual Christmas Parade. This will be the first year in a while that AJ hasn’t been in the parade, since he’s dropped out of scouting this year. I’m looking forward to having some company on the sidelines. Mr. Spy is looking forward to having a quiet, empty house in which to watch the Bears game.

As for me, I’m keeping myself busy with plans and work. The plans are for Christmas — lists in my head of gifts to buy, menus to plan (Mr. Spy’s family is coming here for Christmas dinner this year), cookies to bake. I have some writing to do for a work project, which I’ve had trouble concentrating on at the office this week. The funny thing about the New York commuting is that I am missing my family more and more when I go back there, but I am also missing New York more and more when I come back here. I am anxious to have all the things I love in one place.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. freshhell permalink
    December 4, 2011 10:34 am

    I have enjoyed giving the outgrown baby, toddler, etc., items and clothes to others I know with smaller kids. I like the fact that the items will be used again and that my house is that much more uncluttered. I’ve kept aside a couple of pieces of clothing that hold memories and I can’t part with them but I can’t keep everything. Going through the boxes of kid art is much harder to winnow. That might be my hoarding down fall.

    When I was 19, I was a nanny for my two youngest sisters. The oldest was four and the youngest just months old. My step-mother had a moses basket too and my favorite part of those days was when the older girl would go down for a nap and I could carry R in the basket out to the front porch and read. I never had one for my kids – there was only so much room for baby stuff in our 1k sq ft house – but I remember R in hers fondly.

  2. eleanorio permalink
    December 4, 2011 3:09 pm

    Beautiful blog entry. Thank you.

  3. December 5, 2011 2:22 am

    Nothing like a good jolt to wake you in the morning: last line, third paragraph…. Must not SKIM Harriet’s blog in the morning, must read carefully.

    I hear ya on the living in more than one environment woes. In my experience even when you do finally have one ‘permanent’ base that’s not gonna go away.

    Let’s hear it for winter tailwinds!

  4. December 5, 2011 8:17 am

    Ha, you’re partly fictional! No wonder I like you.

  5. December 5, 2011 8:30 am

    At least your two personalities are consistent storytellers? When we were compiling the guest list for this party I sent the list of our friends to DJ and asked him if anyone was missing. He asked “what about Harriet?” having completely missed your real name.

    I really appreciate the Moses basket, especially because of the baby AJ associations. I like having things that already have good memories, and unlike some baby gear I’m not concerned that it will be destroyed with use.

  6. December 5, 2011 12:57 pm

    The harriet/harriet thing cracked me up — maybe you have to live in two places because you’re two people? what will happen when you conflate them?

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