Saturday, July 24, 2010

Memory and wonder

Lucy Kaplansky’s The Red Thread and Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints are joined in my mind to Adriana’s babyhood. The first week or two after her birth I couldn’t listen to music. The experience of her birth combined with first-time motherhood left me so overwhelmed that music seemed like too much--which seemed strange even at the time, since we always had music on before she was born. A week or two later when I was finally ready to open up my senses again, those were the albums I was drawn to, and now when I hear those songs I am suddenly immersed in the memory of cradling my new baby and the new rituals of our life with her.

Last summer, Adriana found a bottle of Burt’s Bees Buttermilk Lotion. She asked me to put it on her after her bath, and as I rubbed it into her skin, I was instantly, unexpectedly transported back to our place in Alexandria, with he pale sunlight of winter was shining through the bare trees into the bedroom where I was dressing her.

I walked into our living room early one morning last week with Lyra in my arms. Instead of the cool, grey mornings we’ve had, it was brightly sunny, and as I set the baby down on the living room floor with a toy so that I could go pour myself a glass of orange juice, I remembered coming out for my juice on a similarly sunny morning when Adriana wasn’t all that much older, and seeing her and Brian sitting together out on the deck, while he had his coffee and she played with the same pink elephant rattle I had just given to Lyra.

The memories are physical, involuntary, and yesterday I began to wonder what I will associate with Lyra’s infancy--what music, what scents, what light--but right now I can only guess and hope. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to hear Patty Larkin or Josh Ritter without recalling my second baby’s first few months. Perhaps I will remember the way my hands smelled after pitting cherries for Adriana and mashing a mango for one of Lyra’s first foods. Instead of the faded winter sunlight, I want to recall the light that filters through the trees while the baby rolls on a picnic blanket in the with her older sister playing nearby, and the way the sunlight squeezes in around the blinds in my bedroom as I wake up from a nap between my two girls.

Maybe I’ll remember the way Lyra’s silky hair felt tickling my neck while she slept with her head tucked under my chin, just as her sister did, or maybe it will be a totally new memory--the way it feels to go down a slide the baby strapped to my chest while Adriana sits in my lap. Instead of the sound of the baby crying as she wakes and drawing me away from what I am doing, I will have the sound of the baby’s cry followed by the reassurance of my older child as she rushes to comfort her, or even better, their giggles as they look at each other while I give them dinner.

I close my eyes and bask in the memories of just a few years ago, and simultaneously try to imprint forever in my mind what our year so far has been.


andy said...

So glad you're blogging again. Great images

Mike Thomas said...

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Mike Thomas