love letters home

14 Aug


Today, after a thoroughly nice first birthday party for a very sweet, toothy little boy, my own fell asleep in the car — something he hardly ever does, but has done twice in the past week. I decided to drive and let him sleep; it had been a long day, and he’d certainly wake up in transfer from seat to house. The light, the rare heat, the sleepy calm all made me homesick. It was a perfect day for driving to LA, for pointing out to George the signs depicting fleeing families, the top of the Matterhorn, the graffiti. For driving with the windows rolled down and cursing the traffic, for meandering those wide, smooth freeways that intersect and loop above. The comfort of the road beneath you, so well planned.
I sometimes think about George’s future, the childhood he’ll have versus the one he won’t. He will not have the luxury of avoiding Mission Beach for its tourist traps and dirty sand. Or the tamarind and chili paste to hate and eat anyway and learn to love. He won’t have the top of the Matterhorn to look out for.
California, its sunshine and lilting speech, its monuments to Mexico, to excess, to sentimentalism, its burritos, late hours and mall manicures are home to me as much as my own furniture. But my son was born here, with the potable water, the performance fleece. That a-preceding-g combination that sounds, to my ears, like drowning cats. His roadtrip won’t be Los Angeles but down the Mt. Baker Highway, past free manure signs and collapsed barns, a countryside you can almost hear sighing with self-satisfaction as you pass at 55 mph. So we drove it today, as he slept, as consolation. His first summertime, dusky hot and daydreamy car ride.
Later, though, we’ll do the real one together.

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