Monday, October 11, 2010


There are no dolls in our house. No Barbies, no ribbons, no sharp, butterfly barrettes, no pink corduroy skirts, no Babysitters Club books. No princess-themed bedrooms. No blue jeans with embroidered flowers, no tap shoes, no rainbow headbands. Sometimes people ask: "So, are you going to try again for a little girl?" and I slay them with one of my are-you-crazy looks, but the truth is I feel a tiny, almost non-existent tug deep in my belly when I think about how there is no girl in our house. Not that I would consider trading any of my glorious boys, but. still. When I was pregnant with, oh, one of them, I was sure I'd have a girl, and she'd be named Sylvia and she'd have all the sense I missed when I was a teen-aged girl. She'd ride horses, volunteer to read to sick children, save her babysitting money for a trip to France. She'd sigh and clue me in to the pop icons I never recognize when I hear them mentioned on the radio. We'd argue, disagree, cry a bit, make up with peanut butter cups. I'd adore her boyfriends, some of them. I'd ache when she went away to college, to work abroad, to raise her children near the ocean that I miss. She'd help with all those pies and dishes at holidays and I'd cuddle her children and tell them stories about when their mummy was a little girl. There is no girl in our house but me and I don't even know how to wear makeup. Sometimes I miss the little girl that will never be, her absence like an occasional ghost, but then a boy makes a loud noise and I am thrust back into real life where everything is as it really should be.

The first time I saw the ocean was as a young girl on a visit to Philadelphia to visit my great aunt and her family. I can still see myself sitting in the water, pink swimcap on my head. I would flail my arms around in an attempt to tread water; a modified doggie paddle of sorts. I remember feeling so small next to the gigantic Atlantic. But I need not have worried, having my cousins in the water all around me meant that I was safe. The day ended with the pack of us piling into the back of the station wagon and stopping at the store for candy dots, bits of sugar attached to a strip of paper. Clearly the city had much to offer, somehow life was sweeter there. Now when I visit the ocean (I have yet to experience the Pacific) I often feel tiny. It reminds me of my younger self, my smaller self. No matter the weather I am always excited, sometimes giddy with anticipation. People often stroll on the beach, perhaps ramble or meander--I skip. We took our annual family vacation this week. At the beach, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a redheaded girl--eyes glued to binoculars studying the vastness of the water in front of her. I wondered what she was searching for while these lines ran through my head: “For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)/it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”

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