A hurricane has gravely affected millions of people including many in the American Southeast. News reports have shown tragic photos both of devastated areas in Haiti and of flooded streets in Savannah. By Friday, it was normal to hear people at work say that a relative or friend was evacuating his or her home near the coast to stay with them during Hurricane Matthew.
The last few nights have been iconic, October-evening weather in our part of Georgia. It feels strange to tilt my chin up, hollowing the curve of the cool breeze undoubtedly affected by the hurricane. A destruction was caused by this fragment we’re feeling here. This light wind that I admired tonight cooled down humidity and worked without guilt despite its previous red center. The contrast of where it came from and how it affects is both unfair and undeniable.
It is a leap to connect this contrast with a place I find our family in currently, but there is the shade of peripheral truth in the most benign sense of this connection. We see contrast past the time.
In the last few weeks, the most important members of my family have celebrated their birthdays. Since their birth dates are so close together, they alternate between who gets a home celebration and who gets an outside birthday party. While Zade had a casual home celebration this year, Layla had her bowling birthday party. She insisted having it at the same location we celebrated 2 years ago. During her party, Zade had more flickers of sibling jealousy than he had a few years ago; Layla socialized like a tween, not relying on Kal or me to participate. She looked like she preferred to be with her friends, really. Looking at the pictures lets me see the difference the two years make.
Contrary to the quick default talk parents are used to, it doesn’t feel like I’ve just “blinked and my kids are older.” I know I can’t remember 365 x 7 in any fine detail, but the blend since Layla and Zade were born has felt close to time–like a blur of what we can somehow remember paired with what we felt during parts of it.
At this party, her shoe size was bigger by 3, her guest list changed to include her new friends, and she picked out her dress and decided on how to wear it. I was caught off guard when one parent asked me, “Is this a drop-off party?” I had no idea we’d entered into the age-stage where this was mostly normal. It hadn’t even occurred to me that this independence is more common now. I can guarantee this wasn’t a question my mom ever heard when I was growing up.
This year Zade’s home celebration was in our new house. It’s not new by move-in date standards, but experiencing little milestones here is, like I’ve inferred before, like being in a relationship where one mentally records, “oh, this is the first time he held my hand, we heard this song, we went there, etc.” I raced home from work to make it festive for him. We ate on Batman plates. We had double-chocolate cake, his favorite. And he took over 40 turns at breaking the Minion pinata that he and Layla stuffed together an hour before Minion’s demise.
Zade uses his hands when he speaks all animated and such. When I visited him at school on his birthday, he accepted my departure and didn’t hold on to my leg. He takes stand-up showers like a little man. And he reads signs while we’re driving.
Two years ago feels like two years ago. This site chronicles some of the places I’ve been physically and emotionally. Two years ago around this time, I wrote about how I wanted to reconnect with writing, and I posted about getting Halloween decor. Also, I wrote about how we just separated the kids rooms and got them new sets.
Much of that language is true now–home style changes, Halloween decorations, writing goals–and yet the contrast is significant because the edges that meet together from this space have felt movement and growth.
What started out for me on this blog has moved into another tier; what notes I’ve captured about my family has evolved into chronicles I can juxtapose when it’s necessary. Contrast reminds us of what is irreversible. It encourages us to nestle up to that one defining effect–change.