I used to love watching my nina, Tricia, do her makeup on those once-in-a-while mornings she drove Anthony and me to school. A little-girl fascination with pretty, big-girl things, I guess.
I remember watching her reflection in the bathroom mirror when she dusted blush on her cheeks and cringing when she pulled the eyelash curler out of her makeup bag, and just sort of generally basking.
Mostly our dad brought us to school in the morning and picked us up in the afternoon, but when he couldn’t, there was a cadre of backup drivers. Someone was always there and that someone was always family.
I vaguely recall a conversation David and I had a long time ago, but not the context. I think it was something like, he was asking me whether I thought I would go back to California after graduation. It seemed like such a strange thing to ask. Obviously I would go back to California. It was inconceivable to me that there was anyplace else to go. It was inconceivable that I would live outside the greater L.A. area.
And he was like, “But what if you get a really good job somewhere out of state?”
And I told him that jobs are important, but it’s more important to have roots.
And he asked me, “But aren’t you supposed to put down new roots?”
A decade later, I guess we are living where those trains of thought crashed.
And I worry about who will be Alice’s backup.
Not about who will drive her to school – those kinds of logistical knots can usually be unraveled. But whom will she watch in rapt admiration as she wishes she could wear makeup too? When will she be able, on a whim, to spend a night at her grandparents’ house or go to a cousin’s soccer game? Who will sing around her birthday cakes, and will her childhood be as noisy with people as mine was?
I want to give her that. It’s hard to be far away from it.
(I mean, Alice has four great-grandparents. In good health. Are we squandering that blessing?)
Things I certainly keep in mind:
1. We have really great friends here. Kind people who all the time are doing things that are humbling they are so thoughtful. Like throwing us an engagement party and then a shower. Like bringing us dinners on those first, bleary, home-from-the-hospital days. Like sharing their old baby things. Like thinking to call us and encourage us to try out Gymboree. Just for example.
2. We are not out of touch, after all. I called my mom and dad when David and I were leaving for the hospital to have Alice. They arrived before she did. And a few days later, our house was filled with both of them and my brothers and my nana and my tia and my cousin and her own little family.
3. Three is a very small number, but we are a very formidable three. A cadre, definitely.
Last weekend we went to a street fair in our old neighborhood. We ran into a couple of people we know, and we bought frozen-yogurt sundaes. We sat on a curb and ate them and talked about how things like that will be more fun when Alice is old enough to want her face painted and to have a sundae too.
So I can trust in new roots And depend on the old ones, that they are long enough.