Summer has gathered us up in the folds of her skirts and taken us for quite a ride.
Most recently, across five states in eight days and more than 1,900 miles and then home, smack dab into the crepe paper and cupcakes and sister-created scavenger hunt of Lala’s 5th birthday.
I feel a bit like one of the potato bugs the girls love to collect from the backyard. Scooped up and run in zigzags and then dropped in the leaves, and I’m trying to find my feet is what it is.
I don’t sleep past 4:30 a.m. lately, but sometimes those are the breaks, and even though I felt so pleased with how much we’d unpacked Sunday afternoon when we rolled into town all creased and creaky, our house looks like we’ve been living in it. Hard.
This is summer.
I know I never did tell you I was leaving for Wyoming because I honestly thought I’d find space to write (and I wanted to!), but long car rides make me queazy, and with family time and hours at the lake and the swim center and hikes and meals and sprinkler jumping and water fights in the front yard of Gaga’s childhood home, I just couldn’t find space.
Not a one should feel the least bit sorry for me.
Yesterday was one of those “transitional” days after a long trip and also Lala’s birthday, which made it “interesting.” Sweet and testy and disappointing and exciting with quick turns.
Sometimes this is how it is when you’re road weary, and when you’re growing. The same girl who sneers when her mama says what she loves about her girl grips mommy’s hand tight and giggles and dances Saltwater sandal feet at the zoo when the penguin spies her through the window and splashes water with its flipper wing.
It’s a moment to moment thing some days. Confident and needy, spunky and sulky.
Yesterday, after we visited the animals Lala most wanted to see, we rode the train to the Rose Garden, and the shadows of trees and light from the spaces between fell across our heads, and Lala looked so tired and beautiful.
We met our friends to picnic and watch a free concert of West African and African American music in the large grass amphitheater, and it was magnificent, and everyone got their mojo back. We sprinkled colored sugar on mini cupcakes, and Lala didn’t eat a bite of the homemade mac n’ cheese she’d chosen for dinner, and we sang happy birthday to African beats pounding across the stage.
At the end of the concert, J ran down the hill with her buddy and flexed strong arms, and Sici stood below the middle of the stage, eyes darting across the flexing feet and pulsing shiny shoulders, mesmerized and appreciative.
I took out the video camera to document the last moments of Lala’s birthday on the night thick with heat, rhythm and brightly-colored swaths of fabric.
The drums pounded their joyful chorus, and Lala rode atop Papa’s shoulders in a purple sundress, swung her head side to side, moved arms in wide circles, alternated hands as she threw them strong and open-palmed behind and beside her — her shoulder blades and sun-bleached hair reaching with her.
She turned her face toward me and stretched an arm, then twisted back around toward the swirling twirling stage, dancing with the confident abandon of a girl living the moment.