Thursday, June 30, 2016

One Wild Year

Dear Avalon Wild,

The first thing I remember about you was that you were a girl. The second thing I remember was that your face and eyes were really puffy and you were scared. All the same could have been said about me.

I remember Daddy saying "I think she has blue eyes!" while the nurses were taking your measurements.

You were such a gentle force. It made sense you were born in the rain. When I saw you, I remember thinking of this geyser Daddy and I saw in Yellowstone called Mammoth Hot Springs. No one could have prepared me for what a wonder it was. I hoped I'd be enough for you. 

I don't remember what it felt like to be stitched up; don't remember what time it was; don't remember the doctor's face before she left. I only remember that you needed me even though I had never felt so useless. Then I remember the weight of you on my chest and the weight of my love for you; how it burrowed inside of every part of me and came out as tears.

You were born charismatic and curious, determined. 

So much of our first year together for me was about accepting the things I couldn't control and probably never will. So much of your first year was about the strength of love and how it shapes us, like how the waves change the beach over and over againSo much of this year was about me trying to understand why we were crying. I think I've got you figured out now, but that probably means you're ready to change it up on me again. I saw a hint of that yesterday when I realized you wanted to put your own shoes on. 

I could list off all of the things that made this first year of your life hard: colic(?), cancer, depression, but the story isn't those words or experiences, it's what came from them. 

I hated my body for not being good at breast feeding. I didn't think I'd make it two months. Then I didn't think I'd make it to four or six and now here we are and I'm wondering how we'll stop. 

I didn't realize I'd have so much growing up to do once I had a child; didn't realize what it meant to truly be exhausted; didn't realize how much I could do myself; didn't realize how accustomed I'd become to attaching a machine to my boobs; didn't realize how many times I'd check on you and kiss you and just want to be near you even when I just wanted to stare at my phone and drink wine.

You will hopefully never remember your Aunt Maddie having cancer or being snuck into the hospital to cheer her up; never remember the sound I made when I heard the news, like a dying water buffalo or someone whose foot got run over by a train. You will only see the pictures from her end-of-chemo party and feel the way your family appreciated life and each other and you better.

I'm sitting here thinking, how is hot again already? All the fans are on, just like they were last summer when you were new here. How are we about to celebrate your birth-day already? 

How is that I want it all over again? The surge of you coming to me and making me so much more alive than I've ever been? There are so many things designed to give people that feeling like wasabi and rollercoasters and racing towards a line, but there is nothing like the rush of being loved by you.

I know so much will change over time. Your shoe size, your interest in being in the carrier, your bed, your favorite songs, your home, but that light I first saw in your eyes? I know I'll see that forever. 

I love your little gap teeth and how you accidentally whistle sometimes when you're busy. I love the upside down moon shape your eyes make when you're really happy, and selfishly I really love when your eyes squint up that way when you see me. One of the best things is knowing that you really see me and are still happy with what's in front of you. I love that far-off look you get when you're putting your world together, like today when you heard the neighbor's dog barking and the train whistle.

I could say I carried you since I knew you; your little hands and feet and soft, soft tummy, your bubbly lips; but the truth is you have carried me too. 

I haven't cried at expected, "appropriate" times since you were born and now, here I am, nursing you, crying about all you are and all we've become together.

I love you always my magic, magic girl.

Happy birthday (officially tomorrow at 3:39pm:)! 


Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Dear Avalon,

Most everyone in our family has been doggin' on the fair. Too crowded, too far, too hot; so I took you myself. I couldn't buy us an ice-cream cone because I forgot cash, but that was about the only hiccup. You loved the animals. I tried to usher you away from the cows so you could see the goats and you pulled my hand right back to the cow pen. My wild one, you are starting to show me the way you want to go. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Ice Cream Man's Playing Christmas Music

Earlier this week I went to Target to re-stock on the typical day-to-day items I try to buy in bulk: diapers, laundry soap, floss. Of course, I also bought a new shelf for our laundry closet and a pillow for my sister. I chose a checkout line where a girl was buying a outdoor table and chairs. Smart, I thought, because it looked like she was buying a ton, but in reality it was only five XL items. But then, none of the patio chairs had tags and then the cashier had the cash register manual out and quickly my bright idea seemed terrible. After 20 minutes, it was my turn and lo and behold, I forgot my wallet. Once I found it in the bottom of my skate bag in the car I got back in line to pay. I walked out in a hurry, but dropped the diapers out of the bottom of my cart. By the time I realized it, they were already gone and no one had turned them in. When I told Scott about the ordeal I said, “I feel like I used to have good luck and now it’s gone.” I’ve even been wondering if God is mad at me for praying less.

This afternoon I went surfing. Basia and Phil are in town and they watched Avalon for me. I could see them holding her hand in the waves as I looked back at the shore. The water was rough and windy, but perfect wedges kept coming right towards me like tiny marching mountains. I could see straight to the sandy bottom on every duck dive.

Later, the air was still and the grass was hot and there was an ice cream truck playing Christmas music down the street. Why would an ice cream truck play Christmas music?

Avalon and Phil were napping and Basia and I were making things with beads and fishing wire in the living room under the fan. Basia needed a clasp for her bracelet even though she said she could just tie the ends together and double wrap it. I got an old pocket watch chain from my jewelry nest and insisted she use it. “I would have given it to Goodwill if I’d gone through that drawer anyways, honest!” I said. Then we realized we needed to cut the chain clasp free with a sharp tool. I went into our storage shed. “Scott has tons of random tools”, I told her. I went into our storage room. I found wire stripers and a razor blade; one useless, one dangerous. I went to Papa JJ’s tool box. Scott’s always saying how he finds the right thing in there, but I never met Papa JJ before he died so I thought maybe the magic wouldn’t work for me. But then, right there, the first tool I grabbed was a sheer sharp enough to cut the metal chain, and more. And I thought, maybe my luck is changing.

Maddie’s chemo party is tomorrow. The end in this case is something so happy. And then, maybe my luck was never really bad afterall.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Iron & Wine & Ice Cubes

I spent almost all of last Wednesday hungover. I know that makes me sound like a terrible mother, but I don't feel bad about it. I still took Avalon to swimming class and picked up her toys while singing a song. I'm really trying hard to believe what I know in my brightest moments: I am the best mother for Avalon and I am doing my best. I'm actually kind of proud that Scott and I made it to a concert on a weeknight with Mike, Scott's friend since diaper days. I thought the part of my life where I stayed up late and mixed alcohols and expresso had been put in some mental storage box marked 'save for later' along with the prospect of sleeping in.

Iron and Wine sounded the same as they do on their albums, but louder like the notes were seeping straight into my bones. I wanted to cry at this concert. Really, really cry-- quietly and to myself, but with all the feelings I've had while listening to their music. Feelings about the things that hurt us and who God is; About what it means to be good and beautiful; About fog in the ocean cliffs in the morning and grass when it's dying, but still looks pretty in the right light; About Avalon when she dances and wakes up smiling and how she holds my neck and how hot Scott looks when he gets out of his car when he gets home. I wanted to cry because Maddie got cancer and maybe someday more people I love will too. I wanted to cry because I needed to. But I didn't.

Instead, they played their new album almost exclusively, I caught myself being jealous for Sam Beam's wife because he was signing love songs with a pretty girl in a gold, gold dress and some douchey hipster with a zitty beard and a beanie told me to "Shut Up!" for requesting 'Trapeze Swinger'.

It wasn't so long ago that I kicked a girl straight in the leg for blocking me and my dad at a concert on purpose and for flipping me off. Maybe I should be glad that I've outgrown this behavior. Maybe I didn't kick that guy because I have an Avalon now and it was the kind of concert where everyone sits and because Sam Beam was hauntingly playing a violin or something sacred sounding at the time. Maybe a part of me knows that the beanie boy probably had things he could have cried about too and to just leave him alone. Maybe I didn't kick him because I'm tired and I still had optimistic expectations for the night. It did end well. Mike and I made a commercial jingle for Italian alcohol bitters, we saw his latest art projects and Scott and I talked the whole way home while an Uber driver chauffeured us to my parent's driveway.

Before the concert we went to Austin for a reunion with my best friends. The first night we danced in a parking lot and under a tree. I can only see the tree's trunk in my memory because I never looked up at the top. Avalon and my best friend's daughter were throwing leaves towards the tree well, so that's where my focus went. Avalon and I shared a veggie burger from HopDoddy's, then put our feet in the cold pool of a hotel while I sipped a Moscow Mule with a sweaty glass and talked to Cassie about that time she borrowed a bra from the stranger she sat next to on a plane. It all felt so rebellious in this new family oriented stage of our life; Having Avalon up past her bedtime and holding a glass cup near the pool even though no one cared.

The rest of our college roommates and their families arrived the next morning. It was humid and cloudy and Avalon had allergies. We rented a boat and went out on Lake Austin. Scott and I got to try surfing because Michael's brother has a fancy boat and likes sharing. The water was grey and shallow, the boat was fast and quiet. The surfing was hard, but rewarding.

Saturday it thundered and poured and we made funfetti cake to celebrate Nicole's birthday and Nell's pregnancy. We played this game where everyone tried to describe each other's jobs. I only really understood what Nicole did because she's a teacher and I've had plenty of those. Avalon thew up after her nap, but I was led to believe it was a reaction to the Benedryl I gave her for her allergies. We went to a restaurant that night with brick walls and a crappy singer that I had Avalon give two bucks to. She loved dancing to his songs anyways. Basia and I had a heart-to-heart in the bathroom that made us both cry. A handful of us went out that evening to a bar with a DJ on the roof. Basia requested a certain song that she and Phil like to listen to and the DJ laughed and acted like he'd never heard of it. I threw an ice cube the size of a slice of butter at him from about fifteen feet away. It hit him right in the nose and we had to run (or at least I thought so). I had forgotten that detail until just now as I'm retelling this. 

Scott had taken Avalon home to bed that night and gave her a bottle while I was out assaulting people with frozen water, but she woke up early in the morning crying and barfing. She didn't even like the shower I had to give her and water always cheers her up. Turns out she had the stomach flu, not allergies, and by Sunday night about 50% of us had it. Luckily it was just a 24 hour thing. 

All of this goes to show I guess my wild days aren't totally behind me after all. Good.

And in an attempt to make some kind of conclusion, I would like to remind myself that the best days might not always be what you expect, but the best days are here, right in front of us.
+Iron & Wine photo c/o Scott's mom Carolyn via text. ha! She is awesome!
+Palm picture c/o Margaux Arramon-tucoo.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Want to Surf Like Gidget.

Here's another short little video clip Scott and I made on Saturday while the sun was still deciding if it wanted to come out and my mom was watching Avalon.

I want to write down some stories, but I haven't lately and I'm not totally sure why. Things that I want to write about have happened, but I don't know what I want to say about them yet. I'm probably overthinking it. 

I hope you have all been doing well! I've gotten back to most of the comments from recent posts. I appreciate the weather and life updates from your part of this world, always. 

The song in this video is called Gidget by Mylee Grace and Ozzy Wrong. I've shared some of their music before because it makes me feel happy and chill and summery. I might have even shared their home tour before, but here is the link again in case you're in the mood to get lost somewhere else via the internet.