One hour at the roller skating rink for the kids; I help them lace their footwear and gather them into my arms again before I go. Their hair falls across my cheek and smells sweet, dusty and dry and delicious. As they get older these embraces mean more and more to me. My children, in skates, are nearly as tall as I. They thankful for the two extra dollars I give them for candy or pop and do not complain about the small sum. They have spirits of gladness and gratitude; by the time I was there age these things dwelt within yes, but they were eroded and corrupt.
A few minutes later, at home, my phone rings and it’s Nels. He excitedly informs me his sister is dominating in the rink’s game of tag. “She is doing so good, I wish I could take a picture,” he chirps. I hand the phone to the other ear and take out the rising yeasted bread, flip the oven on. I thank him for calling and put the phone down. My children are half a world away, competent and enjoying themselves, all at once vibrant and alive yet strangely vulnerable and precious to me. This cold weather even with the sun, I have a sense of wherever they are and I hold them close and I want them provided for at all times. Ralph comes home to a house full of fresh bread and new lightbulbs, then he’s back on the road to pick the children up along with a u-bake pizza for later tonight.
dark now and at the side of the road, the car idles as my friend in the passenger seat applies her baby to her breast. I no longer even feel the ache, the letdown an infant’s cries, and the huffing-little suction sighs the child makes are familiar but they are from a past that sometimes feels another era. The mama’s breast glows milk-white in the dashboard lights and she is unselfconscious and I think good for her, I’m a bit tired but a respect and a gladness throbs within me, all the more so as she’s close to a year off meth and she’s doing her thing pretty good. I fiddle with my scarf and we talk a bit and I wonder if these memories of early sobriety will be fond ones or if she’s one of the many, the most, who will go back into the night and get lost for a little while
I’m contemplative, this evening.
Home and finishing up a soft shirt for my daughter. Ralph and the kids play Dungeons and Dragons at the dining room table
– hot water and lemon and honey –