Archives for February 2016
I took Avalon to the park today. It was a shorts-in-the-shade kind of day. We sat in the feathery shadow of a young palm tree that resembled Avalon’s ponytail. I tried to distract her from eating grass and dried pieces of mud by rolling a ball, but the wind was distracting me. It made me think about the first time we came here together before she was born. It was warm then too and the wind blew the dust offshore which made the sunset look like it had been painted onto the sky with smashed wild berries. Scott and I walked around the whole park until the sky was black and we had seen all the RC planes takeoff at least once.
The first time Avalon could see this park with her own eyes, I plugged her carseat into the stroller and attempted to walk one loop before she was hungry or crying. I remember figuring out that as a two and a half month old she liked to be awake for one hour and then go back to sleep. I found this out because I nervously unsnapped my top next to the dog park and unsuccessfully tried to feed her next to a black poodle and a lady dressed in khaki who said “It all goes by so fast”. It turned out Avalon just wanted to sleep in the stroller. Now I push her on the swings and she squeals every time she comes towards me; what a rush.
Today I had my skateboard stashed in the bottom of the stroller. When I put it there I figured we’d just cruise by the blue-tiled bowl at the skatepark and check to see if it was empty. It wasn’t. Instead there were about twelve inked-up dudes sitting around the bowl not wearing any pads. The distant smell of cigarette smoke made the whole thing seem dangerous. Everyone was dressed in black or not wearing t-shirts at all and here we were, this mom with a bright blue helmet and a baby with bright blue eyes. But I knew I had to skate.
Once everyone had taken their turn, I put my board on one section of the coping and looked over the edge. Too steep. I scooted it to another section. Was it always this steep? I stepped back, then smiled and played with Avalon trying to act like I wasn’t totally tripping on my own fear. Three other guys went around grinding coping corners and doing disasters in the deep-end. When a guy with a beanie kicked out, I asked him if the spot I had backed away from was the the easiest place to drop in. “In this pool? Yeah, there.” he said, pointing.
I put the tail of my board up to the coping and basically blacked out, ignoring the voice that told me I would fall, that told me my postpartum hair was like straw and my stomach was flabby, that made me worry about Maddie’s cancer, that reminded me I wasn’t wearing my wrist guards and that my baby was just sitting in her stroller surrounded by a bunch of people that I’d never let babysit.
I made it to the bottom with both feet on my board, but the speed caught me off guard and I yard-saled across the concrete—board and body parts flying everywhere. Exactly what they thought I’d do. But then I heard the faint tapping of boards, the skateboarder way of cheering and encouraging another rider, that gradually increased and mixed with a few whistles. I made eye contact with no one except Avalon who was chewing her stroller strap like nothing had happened as I climbed out of the bottom of the bowl. Maybe I’m not totally unwelcome here after all.
I thought about leaving. Of course I considered it, especially since there was a distinct throbbing in the right shoulder of the arm I used to carry someone who needs me more than anyone ever has, but I wasn’t going leave like that. No way. Not for me, not for Avalon, not for all women and moms maybe. I wasn’t hurt enough. I thought about what I needed to do next time. I’d put too much pressure on my back foot before. I needed to absorb the speed from the drop more evenly between both feet.
Once it was my turn again, I stepped up to the side of the bowl and slid my board over the edge. I placed my front foot determinedly on the rusty front bolts and made eye contact with the concrete. I leaned forward, absorbing the speed and impact with both legs. I made it, then directed my board around the deep-end in a drawn-out curve that was subtle like my smile. I’m sure it was the least impressive thing these skaters had seen all week, but there it was again–the building sound of tapping wooden skateboards echoing around all corners of the bowl as I rode.
Just a minute ago I looked at Avalon, awake on the baby monitor, babbling and standing up in her crib instead of sleeping. Then I looked around the house at all the little projects we’ve done to make it ours and I thought “Man, I love everything…. I’m so tired.”
I think about saying a quick prayer to God for Avalon to go back to sleep so that she is well rested for swimming and we can get to class a little early and give the card we made to our friends who are moving Utah. But then I think how awful it would be to say a prayer for that and not for Maddie.
I think about how last week, when my mom asked for prayers for her hairstylist who has ovarian cancer, instead of saying “Of course!” I said, “I barely ever talk to God anymore” and how it all just seemed so conventional and sad and selfish.
Then I look at my linen drapes blowing next to me in a soft, whisper wind and I think: “There is God,” so I say a prayer for Maddie to only have strength in place of cancer. Then, suddenly I look at the monitor and Avalon is laying tummy down, head cocked to the side, completely asleep. And now the drapes really are dancing around quite dramatically.
I’ve been trying to find ways to stay active as a new mom, aside from walking Avalon to watch the sun set each evening. The truth is though, I hate exercising. I love an adrenaline rush. I love unpredictable thrills. I love how loud and calm nature can be all at the same time. I love freedom. I love playing.
I’ve been getting back into skateboarding lately. Avalon hates it so far, so she doesn’t really come and watch. The other day I tried to sit her on a quilt in a soft grassy area next to the skate bowl with some toys she hadn’t seen in a while so I could practice a few kick-turns. She was unmistakably distraught. Scott held her one evening while I skated the back pool and each time I did a turn she cried on cue like a metronome.
I only have this one picture of me skating because I can’t imagine how embarrassing it would feel to be the most mediocre, most documented skater at the park. One night this week I went to skate after Avalon was in bed. The sky was so dark, but the whole park was lit up. You could see everyone’s breath.
Maybe the thing I like most about skateboarding is how it brings people of all different ages and backgrounds together. Nah, who am I kidding? The thing I like most about skating is the rush; how even if a bunch of people are standing around watching you flap your arms for no effective reason and maybe your butt crack is showing, all you can think about is going faster and higher. I also like how everyone is presented with the same medium and no one uses it the same way. Dave says he hates being asked why he likes skateboarding because he finds it as hard to answer as the question “What’s your favorite color?” He did tell me that with skating he just wants to slurp up the surrounding and do like eight tricks in a row. “It’s without rules. There are so many choices. I mean, really your canvas is more limited with surfing and snowboarding, but with skateboarding there is so much freedom….Surf videos are always blue, snowboard videos are always white. Not skate videos.” I’ve thought about that every day since. I also started thinking how I don’t have one favorite color anymore.
A few kind of terrible things happened this week. I didn’t start off this story by listing them off because they aren’t at the front of my mind like they maybe should be. I’m just not finding time to be sad these days. One of my podcasts reported this week that depression isn’t sexy and I laughed; how true. I’m enjoying Avalon so much I don’t even miss surfing most days. I never go to bed before eleven, so at seven when she wakes up, I am usually still exhausted, but the second I hear her I can’t wait to hold her. It always seems like it’s been too long.
Bad thing number one that happened this week: The top of our 50 foot canary palm blew off and landed directly on the mirror of a Jetta and our white picket fence. That could have been a lot worse though. When I think about how Avalon and I were sitting in the very spot it fell last week, I just kind of nod up at the sky and swallow hard.
Bad thing number two: My middle sister and her boyfriend broke up.
Bad thing number three: Our family boat sank Sunday in the storm. We’ve had that boat since I was nine.
I want to write more about the boat and what it’s meant in my family’s life, but I’m just not ready to yet. Maybe I’m not ready to say goodbye.
I decided to redo our bedroom instead. My mom gave us a white quilt and shams that she didn’t need anymore and I decided that even though there was nothing wrong with the way our bedroom was, we needed a change. I wanted it to be lighter in there, and simpler. I went on an absolute tear one day and took out all the scattered seashells except for one, then re-painted the bench at the foot of the bed blue and the back wall white. Then I swapped out Scott’s nightstand, repositioned the bookshelf in the main living room and sewed curtains for the bottom shelf out of a drop cloth I once used as a tablecloth at Friendsgiving.I had to cut the curtains around pictures of obscene things that my friends (Stephanie) drew in sharpie after a few glasses of wine. I ordered a linen duvet cover in “flax” for the comforter.
Scott’s general approach to renovations is more like: Slow and steady, quality over quantity. Mine is some sort of ripoff of the Nike slogan: you don’t have to be a psycho about it, just do it.
The podcast I was listening to during all of this also reported the following quote, which I wrote down in my journal immediately:
“If you have dark luck, then your job is to find some glimmer in it” ~Edna O’Brien