Tomorrow the baby is going to be approximately the same age as the first born when she was born and he got to stay home from school so he could get the nine year old off to school because she sure as hell wasn’t going to do it by herself and himself being in high school would be leaving an hour or so earlier than herself who would have been in the elementary school down the street still. To this day the memory is one of his fondest. A warm and fuzzy day pass; I might as well have given him a day at the local spa. Pedicure and all.
This has to be 2009 I think given the length of her hair which is short and it’s winter and he is 23 and she is 9 and she is 18 and they are playing on the bed, grubby hands and all. They are playing for me because I asked them too. I don’t know how it started and I’m not sure it much matters at this point. It’s still one of my all-time favorites. When you have only one child you have a gazillion photographs and they’re all perfect and complete. When you have two children it’s not so hard keeping track of just two and you can have plenty of sibling shots but I’ll tell you, once there are three it gets complicated especially when the first and last born are three quarters of a generation apart nearly.
When he moved out she must have been 7 and it wasn’t a good moving out; not for anyone. She didn’t understand and even if she had understood I still think it would have been difficult. She simply couldn’t understand why he didn’t live in the downstairs bedroom anymore. The good news was her father managed to get her close to him periodically while he worked out his stuff so she didn’t lose track of him entirely and then he came back but it was still hard. I think he’d returned, not to live in the house, but returned all the same by the time David bolted. He’s too comfortable on that bed to have just come back and she’s wearing her ‘I’ve cut all my hair off because I’m in mourning’ haircut.
These days she’s in some other sort of mourning/flux/chaos/overwhelm and we went to Sakura to a Tatami room where you take off your shoes and sit on pillows on the floor but because we’re complacent Americans there’s a well for your feet when you can’t stand it anymore. I wish the well wasn’t there; I think the well is part of the reason it’s so cold in the room and also why she can’t use chopsticks yet. We went to the Tatami room because this is what she remembers. She remembers that she likes this best of all and she goes here with her family for her birthday. I don’t remember exactly when we did it last but probably when she turned 11 and we would have gone dancing afterward and David blew her off and she was just beginning to work that shit out. We went because there is no time this year for a birthday party. No time for anything. No time for friends, too much conflict with dance friends, too much conflict with school friends, too much conflict between the two groups and her one best friend’s dad popped into town unexpectedly which was just as well because Nutcracker rehearsal has been going extra-long.
This is good. This is when your kids are just being your kids. Their own selves. There isn’t anything different here than there was 14 years ago except maybe Cletus wasn’t quite up to mushing Elizabeth’s face yet but it was pretty close and her face was buried in a book, not a smart phone and Numbah One? He’d either gone inside like that for a minute or he was a stream of consciousness. Take your pick.
This is a total accident. One of the younger girls, not one of the babies, just one of the younger girls was playing with Elizabeth's phones and caught this. I wish I had some sort of before and after. You know, the first week when she came up on pointe doing center work 16 months ago and she was the equivalent of all of three weeks behind but because they were such intense weeks it made this huge difference and the ballet mom mother had her claws out and I just LOOKED at her like she'd lost her mind and then looked at my girl drilling holes in the walls, her whole body shaking because she barely had what it took in core strength to keep herself up on those few square inches. And now, after 16 straight months with almost no break at all she's just hanging out like some third year student and that arch that just WOULD NOT COME is slowly but surely breaking it's way in. And she's just beautiful.
Tomorrow she is taking a class back at the conservatory. Thursdays are her only day off. This way she can see them and they can see her and she’ll have a better idea of what she’s getting into if she goes that route. I’m still waiting on a call back from the other school about getting her in next Tuesday which is the only day before winter break that’s going to work. She’ll miss a day with Cynthia but it won’t be a day her dad or I are scheduled to be on pickup. It’s getting harder as we get closer to the end.
Yesterday she stayed home entirely because they were making the Paris videos and the cover story about why she wasn’t making a video just wasn’t going to fly. Too much too much. Stay home. She’s never outright skipped a class in her life and unless she was too sick to crawl out of her bed she went to class and if she was too sick to go to school she got in the car for dance anyway and sat in the corner taking notes even if she fell asleep halfway through. This is the ONLY kid who does NOT miss class. She missed class.
I find her shoes and hair pins and hair nets and jet glue and ribbon and elastic bits and stitch kits and dental floss (which is what you use to sew shit up when your stitch kit is out of thread) and busted up therabands like ballet confetti tossed into the center of the house and settled under beds and bathroom sinks and coffee tables and kitchen counter tops. NM went into DANY studios one last time this last Saturday and shot for 15 minutes and then for another 15 minutes and that’s all I’m getting. Only warm up at the barre and no center work and no pointe and certainly no adagio.
I was looking at her feet and realized that no matter where she goes, those ribbons are coming off her flats. It’s over.
No one is ever going to care that much about her head, or her arms or her feet. Not ever again.
I'm not saying this shouldn't be happening. I think it should. I'm simply noting that it's over. And it mattered. Enormously.