“So? I was right?” asked Ulrike when I ran into her in the park.
“You were,” I told her. “We have a little boy.”
“A son for Paolo!” she laughed. “Will you raise him to be the artist or the player of futebol?”
I chuckled. “We will raise him to be Charlie Rocca Cups!”
Something in me has shifted, after Charlie’s birth. All my future-thought, planning facilities feel like they aren’t accessible. I can’t think about schools or colleges or child-rearing philosophies or anything like that.
All I can do is enjoy the sandwiches that Berry makes for me.
All I can think about is cleaning dishes.
All I can feel is this wash inside of colors I don’t even know how to describe. Yeah, I guess I’m still in love and drowning in oxytocin.
This biochemical cocktail of love is great for writing, though! I finished that book about our dad, and now I’m writing a book about bunnies. What? Oh, heavens. It’s true. I am drunk on the mommy-hormones of love.
Fortunately, Berry’s got herself together. She’s still taking over any projects that require concentration.
“What would I do without you?” I asked her the other day, when both the bathroom sink and the toilet broke.
“Marry Paolo, most likely,” she replied.
The whole time we’ve been here, Berry’s been painting every day. Her work’s masterful. She’s been painting a lot of landscapes. The scenes look like they’re from the Pacific Northwest, where our dad grew up, and where we spent most of our summers as kids, roaming around through mountains and along the coast with Frank and Sylvia, our dad’s parents.
I’ve spent a long time looking at her most recent painting.
I can’t really express what I see in it. Three trees in the foreground, and there’s something about the way that smaller of them inclines away from the other two that tugs at me.
It feels like family in some way, that dynamic of love, dependence, and individuation.
“Berry,” I said to her. “Thanks for being here with me while I’m this big puddle of emotion. I don’t feel like myself. I feel good, but I feel weird. Thanks for being here to keep everything going.”
She wrapped her arms around me and didn’t say anything, except she hummed this funny little song that our mom used to sing.
I heard her later that night singing the song to Charlie.
Mares eat oats
And does eat oats
And little lambs eat ivy,
A kid’ll eat ivy, too,
It’s just an old nonsense song that was popular when Mom and Dad were kids, but when I hear her sing it, all these marrow-deep memories come alive.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was so happy–so fiercely happy. It was a power beyond me–like in my genes. And I thought of Frank and Sylvia, Nonny and Papa, Mom and Dad. I thought of all this continuation of a gesture, a voice, an arch of an eyebrow.
I didn’t think about a song, and how one day, maybe little Charlie Rocca will sing this same song to a little baby in his arms.
But somehow Berry knew.
Somehow, Berry’s got this all figured out, this complicated dance of ties and love and independence.