I saw Michael Clayton tonight (starring my boyfriend, George Clooney). Now I have seen all the movies nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. (Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men.) I’m going to guess that No Country for Old Men will win, but it’s hard to know. I’m going to predict the winners here. (Waiting for a password reminder, then I’m going for it.)
Interestingly enough, the sister I spoke of recently (who does not speak to me) will be arriving at my mother’s house (a scant three minutes from my front door) tomorrow night. Do you think she’ll call? Or stop by? Ha ha ha ha.
It’s not too late . . . for you to send something exquisite and expensive for my birthday which is Monday. How old will I be? That’s right, boys and girls. Forty-three.
My daughter is five. I was trying to remember being five years old–that was the year we moved into the first house owned. My dad teased me and said it was haunted, but I didn’t believe him, even at the time.
I remember so clearly that my mother put our vacuum cleaner in its white vinyl box right inside the front door. The glass next to the door was 1970s opaque mottled gold. I remember the sun shining through that glass onto the vacuum cleaner box. (Our vacuum was a cannister with a long cloth hose . . . you pulled it around kind of like a dog on a leash.) When I think of that house, that’s what I remember first: the vinyl vacuum cleaner box in the glowing golden light of that window.
My parents were so young when I was five. My dad was only 28 years old when I was five. I try to imagine growing up, being five in a household with such young parents. I wonder if my parents saw me as clearly as I see my daughter. Or do all children feel sort of invisible and insignificant?
The other day, my daughter was carrying around a dog statue she bought for a dollar at the “One Dollar Store.” She’d had me fasten this purple leash on its neck and she dragged it and swung it around. I told her, “Be careful because that dog might break,” but she didn’t listen to my warning. We were heading to the elementary school to drop off her friend to kindergarten. While they climbed into the van, I jogged up the driveway to grab the mail.
When I opened the van door, I heard and then saw her bawling. I said, “What happened?” and she wailed, “I broke my puppy!” I glanced down at her hand and saw she was clutching a gaping hole where the puppy’s front paw had been. I couldn’t stop myself. I said, “Grace, I told you to be careful.”
She cried with such gusto that I envied her. I can’t even remember the day when I would let loose with tears without any consideration at all. Nowadays, when I feel like crying, I first try to talk myself out of it, then I bite my lip, then I breathe a shaky breath. If I still can’t stop the tears, I wipe them as quick as they fall, force myself to be silent and hope no one notices.
But a five year old hollers and cries out loud, lets tears smear on her face, lets her nose run without regard for appearances. What freedom.
After I promised to fix the puppy with glue, she was instantly all better. Life is simple when you’re five.
I was five so long ago. I wonder if anyone remembers me being five? My dad has been dead for 18 years. My mother’s 65 and from all accounts, remembers very little of her life as a stay-at-home mother.
Sometimes, like this morning, I wish my daughter would stay five. She climbed into bed with me while I was desperately trying to stay asleep, trying to hold onto the images in my dreams. “Will you hold me?” she said, and I flung one arm over her body.
She’d nudge her freezing cold feet onto my legs until I said, “Stop touching me with your cold feet!” but what I really meant to say was, “Please, don’t even grow up. Stay five forever. Let’s just cuddle here under my quilt and pretend that we will always be close and that you’ll always want to be next to me more than anyone else in the whole wide world.”
This is my last winter with my baby girl before she heads off to kindergarten. The next thing I know, she’ll go to junior high and develop a crush on an older boy and get her driver’s license and decide I am so uncool and apply to a college back East and meet her future husband and never, ever, ever crawl under the covers with me and giggle when I tickle her by wiggling my fingers on her back. My days of sniffing her little girl curls will be over.
But I will never forget when she was five and I was forty-two.