Archive for August, 2011

Dear Evan: Smelling like fall

August 26th, 2011

Dear Evan:

My descent into being a total sap continues. This week, we’ve had news of a woman who flung her infant — a boy not much older than you — from a hospital parking garage, and I read an item about another child who passed away at 16 months. I just wanted to hold you, rub my nose into your chubby cheeks, smell the sweet residue of pureed fruit on your breath.

When I came home from work, you were all smiles, as always when you see me. First you open your mouth wide in a grin, exposing your two little teeth. Then you turn quickly back to your mommy, who’s usually feeding you dinner at that point. Then back to me, a huge grin, back to mommy, a huge grin. You’re just so happy.

Some nights — most nights — I’ll hide behind the column that our pantry forms between the kitchen and the dining-room table area. You’re onto me, though, and watch patiently for me to pop out on the other side, our own game of peek-a-boo. Whether I manage to surprise you, my appearance brings waves of giggles.

Two nights ago, a rare wind blew through Denton. I say rare because we’re in the midst of record-setting heat, and a drought, so even a breeze is cause for celebration. A windy evening? Unthinkable, but there it was. You and I stood on the front walk, and your fine blond hair whipped with every gust. You goggled at leaves scratching along the driveway, turned to watch birds struggling across the sky, closed your eyes and let the wind blow through your parted lips and over your tongue. When we came inside, you almost smelled like fall.

But not yet. It’s hot. The air-conditioner is struggling; I thought it would die last night, and hurriedly turned it off. The thing survived, but I’m not sure for how long. All we need from it are a few more good weeks, and then the weather will, I hope, turn cool. Then you’ll really smell like fall.



Dear Evan: New furniture

August 25th, 2011

Dear Evan:

Last Friday, I spent eight hours putting together a new entertainment center, complete with bookshelves, for the living room. Your mommy and I, during this first year of your life, thought of furniture as luxuries best left for another day. And then you began trying to crawl.

Our living-room setup was what could generously be called shabby chic: The television (admittedly, a large flat-screen, so not as shabby as the rest) rested atop a century-old dinner table whose rounded ends could fold down, leaving only a rectangular surface. The table, I should mention, was painted lime green at some point in the 1970s. I’ve always wanted to strip the paint and restore it, but that will have to wait. A fairly unsteady nightstand was pressed into surface as a pedestal for a tower of cable box and VCR. (Yes, we still own a VCR.) My XBox, which gets more use as a DVD player, stood between the two pieces of dubious furniture. Our books lived on a sort of dingy green and highly unstable set of cheap folding bookshelves.

Obviously, with you days away from being mobile, the tangle of cords and potential avalanche of books would have to go.

And so it was your mommy and I looked for something… well, adult. We splurged (more’s the pity for your college fund), and a few days later the deliveryman very nicely stowed six huge boxes in our garage.

I’ll spare you the gory details, though I will say that for once on a construction (ha) project, my injuries were limited to sore muscles and a shard of metal in one thumb that your mommy ably and quickly plucked out. The bookshelves are standing in the garage, ready to go out with next Monday’s garbage, and the table was relocated to our front room-turned-office. The nightstand still lives in the living room, albeit as a table to one side of my battered leather couch.

As for you, you’re trying so very hard to crawl. When I got home from work today, I stood at the door to your bedroom, and you looked up from the thick brown rug and smiled and smiled and smiled. You pulled yourself forward a bit, but after a few moments I broke down and picked you up.

You’re doing much better at standing. I wonder whether you’ll walk before you crawl. Either way, you’ll be off and running soon.



Dreaming of the Dark Horse

August 2nd, 2011

I haven’t written much about our trip to Chicago, and I should. After all, it was La’s second trip to the city, and Evan’s first, and both got to see some of my favorite people and dearest friends. I wish I could also say they got to see some of my favorite places, but for most of the time we were limited by the kiddo, of course, and by a work schedule that didn’t let me get out much.

We did get to spend our last night there at my favorite Chicago spot, so it’s probably no surprise I dreamt about it the next night, from our home 2,000 miles away.

I dreamed we were at the Dark Horse, that it was late at night, that the lights were dimmed (as usual) and a group of us were sitting in a corner of the bar where I often sat. But not where I often sat for most of the time there; it was a corner I and my friends used early on, when the bar was crowded and we were pressed into one of the few remaining spaces.

I was staring at the wall behind me, covered in mementos. The walls at the Horse do indeed feature pictures from owner Jon’s father’s life in places, and of horses and other bar decor, but other than one area covered in Polaroids — is it even still there? I don’t remember — people aren’t on display.

Except in my dream: The wall behind me had framed knicknacks from former bartenders Mac and Garrett, and others I can’t remember outside the dream. I was sad I wasn’t represented, as if I had made something of myself and deserved to be lauded as a celebrity former-regular. Jon, the owner, was his usual easygoing self, assuring me I’d have a place on this unreal wall of fame.

And that’s it. I woke up. I wonder if maybe the dream was telling me I’d finally accepted the Horse as history, but if so, it did a bad job. I ached for the place throughout the weekend. I pined for its smell, its sense of safety, its camaraderie. I guess I wished a bit wistfully for the irresponsibility the Horse signified, of days when I could on a whim walk two blocks and get drunk enough to stumble home. I love my life, but I won’t lie and say I haven’t been feeling the weight of carrying a family.

I wonder at what the dream meant. There won’t be an answer, I know. Sure would love to be up on that wall of fame, that’s for sure.