A slow waterfall of drool spilled over her lip and down her chin. I think she’s smiling. Hard to tell with cheeks that fat, that amply pad the toothless gums and tongue she’s got in there. Or rather the bubblegum tongue she likes sticking out to make a sad excuse for a raspberry. I’m glad my momentary wide-eyed gasp could be so entertaining as to cause an uncontrollable giggle.
Her head’s a perfectly round peach, fuzzy and soft. A peach with a Gerber cowlick in the front. Her mama tells me that she tried to matte it down this morning when her corn silk strands were wet and freshly washed. Should just let it curl. I like curls (naturally, given my own pin straight locks). I could recognize that Johnson and Johnson no-tears baby shampoo smell anywhere. They should make no-tears shampoo for grown ups. At what age did someone decide we didn’t need it anymore? Is it because we stop crying? Or that they assumed we don’t get shampoo in our eyes anymore? Because I have/do/will do again. I’d like to have a word with this person who made such brash assumptions.
And that’s not the only thing. I openly admit that I miss bathing in the kitchen sink. I miss the freedom of sitting nude in the same sink where the dinner greens were washed, in the same room where we met for breakfast and watched the birds. Enjoying a delicious juice out of a cup that doesn’t spill. Enjoying the feel of someone else’s hands running a soapy cloth down your back, around your neck, behind your ears, because honestly, do you really pay that much attention to the space behind your ears? Has anyone since you sat in the kitchen sink?
I miss someone watching just to make sure I didn’t slip below the water’s surface, when splashing was a cute Polaroid moment rather than making a mess. At what age did our bathing evolve into an upright position? The infamous missing link.I miss pajamas with feet, the kind with the zipper that went from the knee to the chin. My feet still get cold, don’t yours? Wouldn’t you enjoy some warm traction control in the evenings? And if you’re looking to slide down the hardwood hallway, you can just throw some socks on top. Just watch out for the small desk in the foyer- the one with Grandma’s porcelain. The desk that was under the flower still-life with its paint so thick you could run your fingers over it and imagine that this is how yelling looked in Braille. Braille, whatever that is.
When did our chubby bloated hands become these spidery appendages, our knees now with caps not dimples? Our hair lacquered and colored. Our shoulders so pale in the summer.
I’ve carried bags of rice that have weighed more. I think she’s sleeping now. I can’t feel her little fingertips playing with the hem of my sleeve anymore. She knows I’m not her mother, not her aunt or grandmother, not a godmother or even a neighbor. Just a friend I guess. How trusting children are. How wonderful it must have been.Then came the waterfall again, over her lip, soaked up by my shirt.