Sunday, December 24, 2006

warm wishes

The Mexican women at the bus stop across the street huddle and bounce in the chill, hands tossing long black braids over their shoulders then returning to the pockets of their fleece jackets.

It’s cold here.

Okay, okay. It’s not THAT cold. It’s not igloo, Denver airport, fjords cold. But for the central coast of California, it’s cold. We all make choices. If you’ve been shoveling your driveway this morning, don’t blame me. I chose to live here amongst the cypress and abalone. For this privilege, I pay exorbitant rents and wallow in the knowledge that I will likely never be able to buy my own home.

We had frost the other morning; show me some sympathy here.

Despite the fact that his mother has been wearing the same two pairs of jeans since he was born, Isaac is a clothes horse. When I held up the jacket he loves as we headed for the door yesterday, he shook his head vehemently. “No!” he told me. And, because my child believes in clarity if not a bit of drama, this familiar mantra was followed by “No, Mama!!!” with hand held out in a stop sign.

“Okay, not this jacket. How about your orange vest jacket, Isaac?”

“No,” he says simply and quietly now, reengaging in his previous game of building block towers and losing forever the initial momentum we had worked so hard to muster in order to get out of the house and to the grocery store.

“Okay, Isaac,” I try again, returning from his closet. “We’ve got blue hoody sweatshirt,” I hold it out in my right hand. “And we’ve got red sweater with balloon buttons. Ooh! Red sweater with balloon buttons!” I add with enthusiasm, lifting the hand-knit cardigan up for him to see.

“No,” he says without looking up from his precarious pile of wooden cubes.

“You have to wear a jacket, Isaac. What do you want to wear?”

He makes the sign that often means ‘fish’ for him – as in “Please, mother, I’d like to visit the aquarium today, or at least the pet store.” His hand wiggles rather high above his head, however, and I soon realize he means ‘airplane.’

“Plane, Iz?” I’m lost.

He points up at something that I’ve long since stopped taking notice of. It’s his Halloween costume hanging for the past two months from the handle of a cabinet over the closet, a hooded baseball sweatshirt Mike covered in silver material, a propeller beanie attached to the hood, pieces of shiny insulation sewn onto the sleeves for wings. Isaac wore the costume for about a total of two minutes before a kid in a scary mask left him screaming, face hidden in my neck and he was officially done with the holiday. Now, however, he’s determinedly pointing at the symbol of his young pain.

I’ve been waiting for this moment, the one when I join the ranks of other parents I’ve been watching all my life, the ones towing around kids wearing big pink rain galoshes on a bright, sunny July day, or reading solemnly as their kid flies about the dentist’s waiting room in superman pajamas.

Even though part of me has been waiting for it, maybe forever, I’m taken by surprise when it happens; and I throw back my head and laugh, loud and open-mouthed.

Happy holidays and stay warm, any way you can.

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