The morning was very alive, this morning, and I wanted to go for a walk. The sun, the breeze, the architecture, the jacaranda trees and jasmine drew me, and I gladly followed. I knew they were pulling me into my poignant past.
I’m so many years away from that time… that young, important, defining time. I pretended to walk aimlessly until I arrived.
Six dumpy units. He lived in a downstairs one at first. He moved there after we broke up, until I reclaimed him.
When we were pregnant and married, we moved from the tiny studio to a tiny one bedroom, upstairs. The generous blue-painted patio we shared with the mysterious always-absent neighbor was the best part, mostly.
I was trapped there.Three years of college down, a pending birth and giant belly, a charismatic young husband who was often gone – I stayed locked behind the door and its multiple layers of drab paint, the caged windows. I listened for the mail to come daily, promising ‘work from home’ opportunities. I napped, felt the baby, feared her birth.
I was surrounded by his things. Hawaiian art and artifacts. Bed on the floor. His cookware, his couch, even his recipes. I was so young, and rather lost. But it was romantic…I worked a little, made enough to buy our food and nourish his tiny girl, at least.
Then, she came. I felt the only beautiful thing left on my body was the small of my back, but it didn’t matter.
He told me, “She’s the princess now, you know.” That hurt a little, but it didn’t matter. She cried and I scarcely slept because he needed to work, but it didn’t matter. She was perfect.
Today, I saw the patio. You know, the best thing about that miserable dwelling, overlooking the City of San Diego and the Coronado Bridge. I remember dressing her in her dainty blue outfit, with its tiny white flowers and slightly ruffling sleeves (no pink, thank you.) I only had a few pictures remaining with the camera Uncle Tim had given me in high school, two or three left on the reel of 24.
I’d waited until she was in a contented mood. The weather was balmy, much like this morning, with a bit of breeze from the bay… I gently placed her on a pretty Hawaiian quilt from her Grandma, and snapped her picture.
I saw it this morning, without seeing it, when I saw that patio. The current tenants only have two chairs, one of them upside-down, and an empty flower pot. It was easy to imagine them away.
She became my purpose, the tiny girl in the simple blue and white flowered outfit. I don’t treat her like a princess in ways she would recognize, but she and her sister drive me. I still feel lost a lot of the time, I still feel they’re the best of me. They inspire me to be my best in my attempts to exemplify female loving, balanced, enlightened significance.
I don’t know about companionship and love, remaining true to youthful ideals, what motherhood is… or any of the things I was hoping to have figured out by now to teach to the tiny baby on the patio. But I’m still me, with greater continual love and confidence to impart than ever before. And she, along with her sweet, fiery little sister, are teaching me that those basics are enough for now.