It’s raining outside. That trickly, misty kind that makes your nose itch a little. I spilled some yellow paint on the back porch a few weeks ago painting a chair I got at Good Will for seven bucks. Maybe it will wash it away. California’s been just about thirsty enough to die, but she’s tough, so she hangs in still producing epic sunsets, snowy mountains, freeways filled with people that know how to use their horns and middle fingers, the tallest red wood trees and waves.
The waves have been a wild mess lately. I love when they get like that. This is partially because when I can’t surf I don’t have to feel bad that I’m missing out on clean, well groomed waves that would help me lose myself and the last pounds of baby weight, but also because I like seeing that the ocean has days when she’s upset too. From a distance the water doesn’t even look like it’s moving, kind of like a trail of ants, but up close you can see how the whole thing could take over if it wanted to.
In the early evenings I can smell bonfires burning. I like picturing people sitting in front of them eating Taco Bell tacos with beanies and gloves on like my family and I used to when we went to the beach in the winter.
Maddie started chemo this week. She can’t eat or drink anything cold because the doctor said it would make those things go down like glass. My mom said Maddie had her first sad day Monday, but was up just after dawn the day after making lists and walking the neighborhood. It inspired me to text my neighbor to go walking with us at sunset instead of using the same words over and over to tell my journal how lonely some days can feel. Chemo will last six months. We’re going to have a party when she’s all done. I’ve been at the doctor more than normal lately, either for Avalon or me, and Maddie’s cancer always seems to come up. Maybe because I bring it up on purpose just to see how people take it, because sometimes I’m not sure I know how to take it yet. They always seem relieved to hear it’s stage two, so then I adapt the same mindset.
Avalon likes to reach for and hold things lately. She examines them with this almost cross-eyed look that reminds me of her early baby days. She has developed this fabulous squeal lately and wears her hair in a stick-straight ponytail that sort of resembles a gathering of feathers. It helps minimize the comments presumptuous people make about what a handsome little boy she is. She went to watch a skate competition the other day, then swam under the water in my parent’s swimming pool and ate some avocado when she was done. It was a big weekend for her.
I shouldn’t have probably been so quick to claim what an amazing sleeper she is, because she has not been sleeping very well this week. A few nights she has been rolling over in her crib or waking up every few hours kicking and playing. I am never very amused. I have to have a guy come tomorrow to insulate the walls of her room since it has become too cold overnight for her to sleep in there. We have to take everything out and then put it all back. I’m tired just typing this. Sometimes I fantasize about taking NyQuil and going to my parent’s house to sleep the night completely, maybe even waking up with a crick in my neck because I was so wasted with sleep.
Today I was nursing Avalon in the rocker in her room, craning my neck back and resting my head lackadaisically against the head rest like I’ve seen homeless people do on the subway. I was thinking about taking a nap on my bed instead of cleaning the eggs out of the pan I burned them into this morning. Then I thought about how someday, when I’m sending Avalon off to college or even to get her driver’s license, I will yearn for days like this when she sleepily nursed in my arms in the shrinking afternoon light and all I had to do to make her smile was stick my tongue out or look in her direction. I think my heart may slowly crack little by little over time just wanting moments like these back.
One of the main things I would like to instill in Avalon is the importance of always being honest with herself about what she’s feeling and who she is. You can’t get everyone’s approval, no matter what, and if you try waiting around for it you will be waiting until all your time is gone.
If I’m being honest with myself, and with you, I’d say that I’d like to write a book and that maybe I’d like to start now just by jotting down some of the feelings I’ve had from this crazy year of birth and cancer. I think both of those two things pushed me into a realm of writing things down that don’t belong here. I hate to say that anything isn’t meant for this journal I’ve shared for almost seven years now, but somehow with the internet it seems so much larger scale than a book. Like you can’t whisper at all. And so I started writing things down that could maybe go in a book instead, because, why not? You won’t believe the creativity of the document’s name. It’s currently called “My Book”. Don’t get any ideas about taking the title.
Anne Lamott says that writing a novel is like driving through the fog: you can only see about as far as the headlights, but that’s enough.
For now I think that’s all the advice I need for writing and for life.