Friday, August 26, 2011

A touch of Vertigo


I have my hands on the steering wheel, flying up highway 44, driving in and out of the past and present. I am feeling the wind on my face, seeing sunflowers and laughing out loud at hearing Afro Man for the first (and possibly the last) time. In reality, the windows are rolled up, the fields are green and the news is on. On this road I battled my fear of traffic, shed tears in pouring rain, snailed through blowing snow and endured the vertigo of newly paved asphalt and an equally black sky.

I drove up and down this stretch of highway hundreds of time because,
well,
I was in love.

My first love.

My first for almost everything – my first time getting drunk, my first time to lie about where exactly I was spending the night, my first cross country road trip complete with food poisoning from gas station food... but, as with most great first loves, this one was followed by equally great first heart break. The only cure for which, I admit with embarrassment, was sitting in the shower, crying, while eating vanilla yogurt. If I had had my umbrella at the time, I would have taken it into the shower with me (for dramatic effect), but then I didn't get the umbrella until my honeymoon.

When I finally decided to get out of the shower, dry off and leave my self pity and lost dreams behind, I had found an unexplainable confidence in love. A confidence that carried me through the summer, from work to play, passing on one boy after the other, because my confidence in love did not by any means imply a confidence in men.

When I did find love, I found a boy, who is now sitting in the car beside me flying up highway 44 because,
well,
he is in love.

My first skipped class. My first music festival. My first cup of coffee. My first late night study partner (and no, late night studying is not a euphemism for anything else). My first back packing trip. My first and only terrifying jaunt in a tiny boat on the giant ocean. My first for so many more things, and as with all great loves, this one has great heart aches. Love isn't a destination anymore waiting for me at the end of a highway, love is the highway. Sometimes there is unnerving traffic, rain, snow and a touch of vertigo, but more often there is wind in my face, flowers on the side of the road and I am belting along to the silliest song I can find on the radio.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Changes

“Do you want to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, I ask Ivory.
“No. I only sing songs about animals.”
And a new song alights. This one is about lions.
For some reason my little girl will not sing nursery rhymes. She will ask for specific ones (at times), fill in missing words (at times), but will not sing a nursery rhyme.  Just last night she was sitting on the edge of the bed in my grandmother's basement singing to herself. “Happy Changes, Happy Changes, Happy Changes”. I have no idea where this song came from, but this is a classic Ivory song. She sings the moment.


Happy changes indeed. 
We just spent the day visiting with my Oma. Eating her wonderful home cooked food.. walking around her neighborhood and just enjoying her company.


We are on a road trip.


We left behind the mountains, drove across the plains, saw a few raindrops, a lasting rainbow, a sunrise and a sunset. We drove past bent over workers lumping potatoes into bags. We drove past bags of onions stacked high. We drove past the road side stands of water melons and cantaloupes.
Beautiful changes. Yummy changes.


I listened to Sylvan scream and scream as Ivory stared listlessly out of the window, my mama nerves about to shatter. He has a full belly, a clean diaper and is just bored I tried to remind myself. We don't usually drive. I have never used the car seat as a means of getting a child to sleep, instead I usually pick them up, hold them close and step out side. I slide my hand between the seats, and try to pat his belly to remind him that I'm still close. It works - temporarily. Desperately wanting some happy changes.


This trip reminds me of being not much older than Ivory. Sitting in the backseat of my parent's un-air conditioned station wagon. Driving across the United States. We did this summer after summer. Traveling from one grandparent's house to the others and stopping at state park after state park, national forests and battle fields. In the car with my brother, and then a sister followed by another sister. One summer the trips no longer were from grandparent to grandparents house but rather between my mother's house and my fathers visitation time. But all the same we drove across the country. These where mostly happy, but some not so happy changes.


I remember my thirteenth birthday. On that day, we stopped in Saint Louis. Our usual stop was the zoo, but I wanted to go to the art museum. My dad handed me a one hundred dollar bill and walked me to the front steps of the museum and let me go in by myself while he and the others wandered between cages of animal. My twenty third birthday was spent traveling back from our five week honeymoon in Europe... and I am sure that there where many more of my birthdays spent in cars. Memorable changes and some unremarkable ones.

The sky darkens and then is dark. Ivory is asleep, Sylvan finally quiets and we drive the last half hour in determination to not get grouchy at each other even though we have been sitting in the same car for the better part of a day.

We pull into my Mom's driveway. We are stopping only to drop off a few things and eat dinner before we drive on to my in-laws house. A tree has fallen smack dab in the middle of my mother's driveway smashing the roof, and it has to stay there until the insurance adjuster comes by. Some changes are jarringly sudden and followed by a draggingly slow bureaucratic mess. Both cars are stuck inside indefinitely.

“Happy Birthday, happy birthday, Happy Birthday.” Ivory sings as my mother brings out cake and ice cream. Her own version of happy birthday. I am a year older, and so is she. She is three, and she knows it. She is old enough to go to school.


After we leave the rolling mountains of the east, drive across the vast expanse of middle America and climb back up the road to our city nestled in the mountains there is a change waiting that I'm not ready for, but for which she has been begging. I will get to walk her to school for the very first time.