Tuesday, October 4, 2011

a long slow swim

Seemingly random, uneventful moments from childhood can attach to your soul like cellophane to wet fingers.  For me, one of those odd sticky memories is the time spent nosed pressed to the front of the vending machine in the basement hallway at the Deseret Gym. Not wet blue memory of the pool where I officially learned to swim. Or the slippery cold ladder rising to the high dive I braved to jump from. Or even the locker room packed with white wrinkled wandering old ladies & their strange weathering boobs.  It is the vending machine. 

I haven't thought about it for a long time but last night at swim Beach standing before the vending machine her amazed little smile that I would let her get something, anything she wanted. You would have thought I offered her the whole world. 
Suddenly I am seven years old again holding a handful of precious coins in my pucked little fingers, starving, wet hair sticking to my face, choosing for myself a treasure wrapped in plastic.  Disadvantaged, the youngest of three girls or if I wasn't with my sisters the less street smart of three friends, either way I always picked wrong.  Some other's pick was bigger or lasted longer, sweeter or had more pieces. 
Until one day when on accident I picked something exotic: barbecue potatoes chips.  I remember how each one was so spicy to my wonder-bread-corn-is-a-vegetable-if-not-then-potatoes-are-mouth.  In the backseat of a Buick Station Wagon the small bag seemed endless lasting the whole ride home.  I was sure I was the smarted kid alive. 

Childhood is such a crack up.  But it is also haunting; it floats through common threads of a family. Childhood lays a foundation for life, for a lifetime.  That is a big responsibility to shoulder. History has a big shadow and wears big shoes.  Can I ever hope to give my children half the childhood I had?  I wonder.
As Beach's 8th birthday approaches I see us writing the ending to yet another chapter of her life.  In the blink of a decade she will be 18. 
What lies beyond the green grass of 7?  I remember wanting her big sister Alexis to grow up.  I wanted to see what she would be.  I was a young parent only looking forward.  Twenty-one years of parenting later I am an old parent, looking forward, looking back, and every now & again looking up to question & down to swear.
Am I doing a good job?       

As Beach and I read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle's books, books my mother read to me, and she holds Emily, my doll made by my mother, I know I am at least on the right track.
I just have to pause to wonder, hungry & excited for all the possibilities at hand, nose pressed against the glass, what will she choose?    


  1. I love that you still have that doll, that reminds me so much of mom when we were growing up. Time passes so fast, I can't believe that the babies we had together are now seniors and that your baby is 7, hold onto her tightly and enjoy every minute. xoxo

  2. Oh I love this, Misty. I love to drink in language, love that some words are pure poetry—and your words are that. They are beautiful. I can see you against that glass. See Beach, poised. You watching, looking forward, back, all around. It's all held here. Thank you :)