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Not ready

Preschool, Berkeley, CA.

Tomorrow will be my boy’s last day at preschool. I am way more unprepared for this than he is.

Four months ago I wrote, of this window, and the changing view it affords:

now, whenever I do drop him off (as I did this morning; a once-weekly gift to myself and him, baby steps toward balance), it’s me who lingers on the sidewalk looking back at the empty window where once, not even six months ago, he would blow kisses, gesture hugs, and bravely wave goodbye.

It was only a heartbeat before that that I was called back to this house by the angel-from-heaven preschool director to fetch my older daughter: she was just too inconsolable, midmorning her first morning there. Of course things changed; she adapted, and grew. Eventually it was her brave face at this window, waving goodbye. Then his. After tomorrow, it will be neither: just this photograph, and when we walk or drive by, other tender faces at the beginning of a journey, peering out at both their past and their future.



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Evening time

[One evening in lesbian family life, as contribution to the 7th Annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, hosted by Dana at Mombian.]

Dusk, the crepuscular hour, the gloaming. Gentle, delicious. I am laying in the post-day, pre-sleep moments with my son, now five. My daughter is downstairs with her Mama, listening to chapter seven of C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian.

It is balmy out for a late May Berkeley–67 degrees–and a light breeze fingers the curtains open and shut. They’re home-made, these curtains: someone we can’t remember brought a sarape to sit on during one of our family’s back yard puppet shows some years back, and left it. We put the word out, but no one claimed it, and as sometimes can happen with forgotten sarapes, our kids’ grandmother stitched bedroom curtains out of them.


Through the open window float the sounds of folks talking as they walk up the street below; an occasional car swooshes by. A car door slams and by his voice, I hear my brother-in-law has come home; as he talks to his son, he pulls the garbage and recycling cans off the street where I had left them in my haste to make it home to dinner with the kids. We each live in houses on the same large lot in the center of the city; we share a vegetable garden and the abundant outdoor garden and play space, we share childcare and grocery shopping, a mortgage, and garbage can duties.  He takes the cans to the curb, I bring them back. Except that since I began working full-time, I can never bring myself to lose a minute’s evening time with my children still awake, so I usually retrieve the cans long after they’re in bed.

Tonight, as he often does, he has brought them in for me.

A small passenger plane passes overhead; robins, finches, sparrows, and California Towhees sing the sun down, fewer and fewer with each passing minute.

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Weekend bonus shot (Monday edition), 01.09.12

Pops returning home at the end of the evening, Castro Valley, CA.

I watch him go through these doors to his apartment in the retirement community so long and hard now. Used to be he’d turn and wave and shamble off, only looking back once to wave me away (‘gwan now, doll; go home).

Now, stooped by his ninety-one years (this Wednesday), he turns and looks over and over again.  And so do I.

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Regarding the carousel

At the Tilden Park Carousel’s Christmas Extravaganza, Berkeley, CA.


We’ve been here before. (Back then, when she was two, and again then, at two and a half. Clearly it’s a thing for me: I just counted over half a dozen “carousel”-referential posts here.)

We come to Tilden Park’s Christmas Spectacular (ok, official title is “Fantasy,” but we rotate its name for fun) more or less annually, since she and her brother began to be big enough to not be overwhelmed by a carousel.  Okay, since they were old enough for me to not be overwhelmed by the prospect of holding their wee bodies on a moving zoo animal on a carousel.

We’ll be back every single year, until the youngest of them can no longer grasp enough of a wisp of his childhood self to enjoy the ride.

I really don’t know what to expect with these people. When they reach the tween verge, and the tug-of-war with their past and future intensifies, what will they do with these childish things? They are so full now, with such easy access to a wisdom most would attribute to advanced years, and an equally easy access to a weightless imaginativeness most would attribute to extreme youth.

What I want is for them to continue to hold that paradox, all the while being fully immersed in their present. À la the reformed Scrooge, who, at the end of his three-directional hell ride, vowed to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!”

A gal can, and does, dream.

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Fits, barely


She fits in my lap, barely, but that doesn’t stop her from wanting to cuddle there, nor does it stop me from hoisting her there and doing all I can to hold and preserve, ’til she’s ready to get up.

The bittersweetness of her disappearing childhood–gradual, utterly inescapable–is a taste she knows as well or better than do her mother and I.

Because she is so adept at putting her feelings into words, we know the acuteness of her awareness. She hears her mama’s or my casual reference to something she used to do when she was a baby, or watches her little brother play with a toy that was once hers (and now, for good reason, is no longer), and it all comes back in a rush: the longing for her own, lost, younger self.

And yet that feeling, powerful though it is when it comes, is wedged right next to its opposite: an insatiable appetite for new knowledge, longer words, more complex keys to vaster mysteries.  The grown-up girl-sounding statements, pronounced as much to hear what they sound like coming out of her mouth as for anything else.

She lurches forward, swirls backward, glides ahead, and then stops again and looks back, hand at her brow, shielding her vision from the bright light of the inevitable.


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