I am back in Vermont after two days at the lake with Newman and his son. It was quiet there, quiet enough for me to read two books and re-discover the pleasure of having nothing to do but chop vegetables for dinner, study Newman’s face and hands (still no kissing!), and do some squats, of course. It is always a bit of a jolt when summer arrives abruptly; I spent a couple of hours last weekend making my summer to-do list, but these first two weeks are purposely unscheduled to help jump-start me on the most important task of all: being more tuned into the present moment. Having unscheduled time is a luxury I fully appreciate, and tuning in is something I need to keep practicing.
My mother and I are sitting at the kitchen table, making sandwiches with lettuce, tomato slices, ham, cheese, and avocado. My almost ten-year-old nephew is piling peanut butter and raspberry jam in the center of his bread because he likes it to spread when he caps his sandwich with the second slice. We are back from a dip in the pool, sampling the wares from the daily grocery run, drinking lemonade and deciding on ice cream flavors for dessert.
Free is writing a story on her tablet, speaking into the microphone and then editing the mistakes that result as the program translates her words into print. She asks me how to spell words like “says,” “voice,” and my favorite: “sassy.” She is concentrating, brows wrinkled and serious, adding details for the script, which she plans to act out with her friend. She and her cousin, E, have passed the tablet back and forth all morning, taking turns typing and revising.
“Mom, I’m so attracted to writing right now,” she sighs dramatically, and I smile, loving the way she has phrased it. I am tapping on my iPad, borrowed from work for the summer for playtime but now a necessary tool since my laptop died suddenly and pathetically last night. “Zwoooooppp” it buzzed, and then went silent without so much as a single flashing light to signal its demise. I’m finding the iPad a limited substitute, but Free’s new crush is helping me keep it in perspective. “At least I’ll write shorter posts now,” I think, trying to find a bright side as I try again, in vain, to select text to cut and paste. While I’m stuck in a maddening game of cursor-moving and screen-shifting, Free taps me on the shoulder and asks if I’m ready to hear her story. “Of course, baby,” I say, and I am ready to listen, to applaud, to echo nuances and ask questions, to tune in fully to her words and her world.
She is my jumping girl, my dancer who rarely stills her body. She is the one with perfect curls that bounce as she twirls and dives and flips. She is my heart, the only one in the universe I could not live without, if truth be told. And here she is, writing up a storm, getting lost in its disconcerting details, the way all writers do.
Hers is a good story, featuring ballerinas and a robbery. Who knows whether this attraction to writing will last? For now, it’s enough that she feels it at all, that she has given in to its pull, and that she wants to share it with me. As I tap, tap, tap my own words into being, I know it matters less that they are perfect, right, or true than that they are mine, and that I am still crazy about creating them, even after all these years…