But I won't stop, because she's not the boss of me.
I mean, she is the boss of me, but sometimes you have to push back, you know?
I arrived in Toronto and the very first thing that happened was a funeral. Viewings every day for three days. "I'm so glad you're here." (Ironic, I guess.) A body in a pink sweater enhanced by the pink glow of the lights they use in funeral homes to keep the skin from looking grey.
My parents' house in the summer quiet.
Then the new apartment. A yellow vinyl sofa. Sleeping again in my high school bed. No curtains and the leaves making shadows on the wall. Street lights. Sirens and sirens and more sirens. Kids throwing keg parties next door. Walking by myself with the heat rising up from the pavement. That Toronto garbage smell. People from college. Trying to keep busy.
So, yeah. My first year in Toronto left these little flashes of memory. Lots of new people. Lots of old people I didn't really like. Gut punch after gut punch as my old life fell away, revelation after revelation. I was always hungry. Drinking too much. Lying awake at night with my fingers prodding my hip bones, my own quickened heartbeat pounding in my ears. At 27, I was so anxious. I felt like I'd already run out of time.
And then I met Nathan, started again in earnest, and things were fairly stable for ages, until the baby and the move to Durham made everything new again.
Elizabeth Murray Selk. Murmur. Mur. Smeetch. The Smeetch. Pumpkin Pudding Pop. Smootch a la Bootch. (Nathan continues on in nickname-maker supremacy.)
She loves to pluralize, sometimes incorrectly, and often points out "lots of peoples" in a crowded space. She regularly sings to herself (Twinkle Twinkle, Eensy Weensie Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Old Macdonald Had a Farm, etc.) but hates to be corrected on the words (or in general, which is, I suppose, reasonable).
Everything must be done "ALL BY SELF!" She screams it at you if you try to open a door for her, feed her a bite of food, brush her hair or her teeth. She is endlessly determined and fiercely independent. Both brave and confident.
She has demanded, quite angrily, to drive the car.
I find it hard to be a mother. I spent most of the past 25 years in love with and dependant on my solitude, but now, I am never alone. She loves to be in my lap, loves to have a nipple in her mouth, loves to hold hands. "Hold my hand, Mama!" she'll say. "I need your hand." It's impossible to say no.
It feels at times like her little fingers are constantly crawling over my skin, rubbing, pinching, tickling. Half of the bites of food I take are from her dirty little fingers, and far too many are damp from her own mouth. Countless times a day, I put my lips against some bit of her hot, slightly damp skin. I rub her thin, soft hair against my face. I breathe in the vaguely earthy smell of her. Her sturdy little toddler body presses against mine for most of every day and all of every night. All 25 pounds of her feel more like a part of my own body than their own weight. Hoisting her up is nothing.
She is uninterested in riding in a stroller. Refuses to drink milk from a cup. She wants to walk on her own, or be carried. Water is one thing, but if it's milk, she only wants it from the source.
She is tall, like Nathan, and largely his twin, but over the past two years, her eyes have slowly changed from a stormy grey to my own dark brown. If you look at old pictures, her body is like mine.
Doing nothing. Having time. These things are hard to recall.
When I was young, I couldn't imagine my future as an adult. I would try to see myself at 30, 35, 40, and become overwhelmed by the creepy crawly unknowing and impossible feeling that would slime its way over me as a result. For a long time, I wondered if that meant I might die young, join the 27 club. That was silly, obviously. I am now a full decade past that. It is a strange feeling, though, getting old. I still can't imagine the future. It's a waste of time to try, and luckily, I guess, I don't really have time to waste.
37, y'all. It's here.