The shimmering plastic threads hung in full length of the doorway to my home office, the one room I have spent far too much time in while a pandemic looms far and wide. Translucent with pink, lemon and pearly threads, it’s a cheap rendition of 1960s beaded curtains with the sound of kumbaya in the ether. The girls must have escaped to Target I thought as I turned the corner and saw the decor. Tendrils of white light, a wispy prism. I laughed. Then my heart lurched a beat in sweet sorrow. 2020. What a GD year.
When I was 10 years old and got better at arithmetic I would count by fives. How old would I be, say, in 1980? 1995? Or, woah, 2000? I’d be 35. That seemed impossible to imagine then. Just ancient. Now I divide by 11 and wonder about the five-year-old girl with the missing teeth. In those days, birthday parties were simple. An egg on a spoon, red rover red rover, hide and seek.
A quarantine has invited in simplicity and reduced time.
I like the chintzy doorway tinsel. I’ll keep them up for a while. They are a reminder that my daughters, Josie and Sophie, are delightful spirits here to both tease and teach me. “Come And Experience The New You,” is what they said about the fringe curtain. “Your clients will love it.”
Every day is a quiet milestone it seems.
Just yesterday Josie spotted a shrew out the kitchen window skirting under the porch. You mean a mole, I corrected.
No. It is a shrew and it needs a name. And the baby bunny, too.
We’ve all regressed in this quarantine. Josie left some celery for the critters.
Josie just turned 20 years old in silence. Mostly. Her friends did a coordinated drive around the bend, tooting their horns before returning to their online classes. She left her adolescence behind with the sound of tires on gravel. Anticlimactic. I felt for her. Josie is a Taurus like me. Insistent. Persistent. Passionate. Protective. (My mother called me ornery. Whatever that meant to a small child. I’m still not sure why she landed on that particular word but it was so odd I will never forget it. In kindsight, I figure she read it from a German-English translation dictionary in trying to describe me, störrisch.)
How about Pete? I asked.
Yup, Josie could go with Pete for the shrew. She named the bunny Tulip on my behalf. She’s been capturing the fleeting moments when I swoon over the 100 tulips I planted in November. The cool spring has made them last. Pale pink, soft yellow, royal purple, bold red, and the exuberant orange ones with black happy masks when in full bloom. Bright, confident, proud blooms. Worth the wait.
These flowers are my antidote to a month filled with death, departure, disruption, loss and grief. Celebrations, graduations, and memorials put on pause. The faux thread curtain is a reminder that the past seeps into the present and the present informs the future. Yet only what is alive exists in the moment. It’s all temporary. Nothing lasts. Nada.
So I told my girls they are my joy and delight. They are living proof that my choices were very good indeed. Look at their dad! Karma or luck or genes aside, my choices were about putting love, calm, consistency, care and compassion in the center of our household. It’s a damn corny thing to write, especially because I can be impatient and stubborn as my mother noted on many occasions. Except. Except for the fact of my daughters’ presence in the world. They are evidence that choosing to practice these values matter. It’s not stubbornness. It’s commitment.
Sophie was born the year the first Harry Potter book came out and that’s all thats counts for her. Her first tattoo is a horcrux. Josie was born in a zero year: 2000. A big year in and of itself. A turn of a century soul. She counts big birthdays by tens, allowing her two big ones so far. This is not as fun as being born in a year ending in a 5, which requires a bit more numerical effort. But it is a joyful effort, like adopting my new shiny entryway fringe, which I could never have imagined way back when.