Monday, August 30, 2010

Of Shirts and Sand

After a trip to the beach, I spare one tee shirt from the laundry and seal it up in a Ziploc bag. Each day after work, I open it up and mash my face into the cloth, smelling the sand and sea and sun.  I do this until the poor thing is devoid of any kind of olfactory beachiness.

I think today is the day I surrender our last trip's tee shirt to the washer. If I weren't so sad, I'd think it comical that I'm about to wash out any hint of the ocean smell with a product called Tide.

We went to Hawaii for our beach vacation this year, the place where all of my most romantic notions about geography were set. The place where I've always felt the most like me. It's where my family and I traveled during my formative years. And now, during what I'm calling my transformative years, it's where I try to travel most all over again; consequently, it's where we're indoctrinating Sophie into the Hawaii habit, too.

I'll go out on a limb and say that I hope she takes it for granted. I hope she finishes her childhood assuming that she can expect these kinds of experiences to find her, instead of wondering, like so many people do, how she can deserve them. Because frankly, there's nothing a mere mortal can do (short of saving the world from the Kardashians) that would warrant a reward like a week or more with the 50th state.

If you're a Hawaii junkie like me, tell me your favorite island hang. And if you've been there recently, I'll buy your bagged tee shirt for ten bucks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dear Papa

One night, long after bedtime, Sophie begged me to write a letter to my dad, her late grandfather. "You promised we could do it tonight," she said. I watched her take scissors to paper and tape the little pieces together to very meticulously make a pair of butterfly wings. "It's too small for me to write the words," she said, holding up her invention. "You write it for me, Mama." That first night, she instructed me to write in block capital letters, not cursive, so that Papa would know it was really from her, even though I wrote it. "From your grandaughter, Sophie," she dictated. "I'm in first grade now. I'm almost six. Grandma misses you very much. Write me back."
She's been writing about a letter a day to the man she called Papa, the man she's been speaking to daily since before she took command of the English language.  Not knowing how to send a letter to someone beyond the physical, she held her letter up that first night and asked how we would send it. What was Papa's address? Where was his mailbox, anyway?  I was confused about sending the letters myself, and so I suggested burning the letter outside. "The smoke will send him your message," I said as convincingly as I could, and then heaved a giant sigh when she agreed.

Last night she wrote the letter herself: Papa, I don't know what heaven is like. Do you have information? I've lost two teeth. Love, Sophie. She decorated and clipped the tar out of her missive and handed it over.  "It's really hard to ruin it after spending so much time making it," she said. "It makes me sad at first, but I really want to send it." So under a twilight sky, the two of us watched the letter take a flame, and then take flight to wherever it went next.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Today is Sophie's first day of first grade.  We've come a long way, baby! Last year at this time, I was rounding up our friends from across the street to see Sophie off on her first school bus ride. I video taped her with my Flip Mino (that has since been stolen during our basement remodeling), made a little movie for the relatives, put her on the bus and spent the rest of the day trying not to throw up. When she got off the bus, I heaved the huge sigh I had held in all day while I fretted and wept and gagged.

This year, we barely made it to the bus on time, and I did a half-assed job taking a few shots of her with my phone while she boarded the big yellow bus. No nausea, just some asthma, and I just now noticed that it's about time for her to step off the bus. Next year, I'll probably had her a soggy waffle on her way out the door, and watch her walk down the middle of the street. I'll say to her in the evening, "When did you get home?" 


When I went back to work last December, very unexpectedly and after working at home for what seemed like a millennium, Sophie and I were forced to do the thing we hate the most: Change.  I have to give the both of us considerable credit for molding ourselves into the people we need to be to maintain our dynamic duo-style relationship during these strange times. During periods of feeling like someone left our cake out in the rain, it's true that we do fall apart every now and then.  You might notice the conspicuous absence of Alex in all this. It's only because he's a complete nutjob no matter the weather.

So if you know us--or if you don't--and you find us acting weird and rough around the edges, it's only because we're all trying to figure out how we will continue to make these kinds of steady strides toward remodeling ourselves without feeling like we've been robbed.  And if you know us--or if you don't--say a prayer for us.  I recommend sending up a few to RuPaul, patron saint of radical transformation.