Quinquennial

When we moved in there were just two of us, all quiet in this creaky house with an overgrown front garden and a wasteland of a backyard. We painted the walls green. We watched two girl children—our neighbors—explore the block together. It felt like the great mystery of our future was before us; maybe we’d move west, maybe we’d have a baby, or maybe we couldn’t. There was lots of time to think.

Now those girls have long limbs and hips they still aren’t used to, and they cross their ankles like their mothers, perching on the monkey bars at the park and touching their hair and chatting coolly with the boys who’ve appeared to try to impress them. Now our two little girls pull themselves up on the low branch of the pear tree and swing by their knees. They do their best to scale the back chainlink fence. They take off their shirts and play at inflating one another’s bellies with the bicycle pump, then collapse, giggling. We have what May calls “the best garden in the world”: currants, raspberries, tomatoes, beans, greens, tomatillos.

In another five years we’ll have asparagus, blueberries. They’ll both get on buses in the morning and spend the day on their own at school. They’ll learn mean things about the world, the things we’ve kept from them as long as we could. They’ll make friends. They’ll be able to read. Those neighborhood girls will move out of their parents’ houses and start finding their own lives.

About a year ago, when August was still barely a toddler and May still enjoyed toppling her over for sport, I was at the mall on my own taking care of some errands. I heard fast footsteps slapping up behind me—two people running—and then heard two girls’ voices “Mom! Mom! Mom!” They both kept calling and running until they caught up with the middle-aged woman just ahead of me, and then they came up one on either side of her and slowed to walk beside her, touching her shoulders, making big gestures with their arms and talking to her both at once.

My first blog post was July 25, 2004. A month later we closed on our house, and the next day we found out I was pregnant. These days, I feel a little sad, like things are happening around me faster than I can grasp. August is almost as old as May was when she was born. They disappear upstairs together for long half-hours, building little worlds out of hairclips and legos on the bed. They sit in my lap and listen to the same story, both leaning into me. In five years, our whole world has changed. We go to the same jobs, we sit at the same table, we wear (dear God!) the same clothes. But we are rearranged, inside and out. There are four of us. It’s happened faster than I ever imagined it could.

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4 thoughts on “Quinquennial

  1. Oh god, I KNOW. Four years ago feels like a lifetime (which, I guess, it is!). It feels funny sometimes not having a baby around, as much as I didn’t like the little baby stage, but then I think about all the fun stuff you can do with older kids and I get excited about what’s to come.

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