26 July 2006
that's what she said to me tuesday when I asked her what it felt like to be five years old for one last day.
"poor five," she sighed. "I'm going to miss being five. and I think five is going to miss me."
I knew I was going to miss five too. I felt that deep, familiar ache and looked at ava with new eyes: legs growing long and spindly, dirty blonde bangs hanging unevenly over big brown eyes, crumbs from an afternoon snack on her cheek, two newly loose teeth. the frailty of all this, the urgency of living right now, the soaking up of as much of ava and ezra as possible. all of this and then I felt the waves of something absolutely indescribable wash over me.
that night, we lay on her bed under the large paper lanterns. we talked about the day she was born. I began to ask her all kinds of questions, mostly about things we both assume I already know. things like her favorite number (1,000), her favorite color (red. and pink. and yellow and purple). her favorite food: spaghetti. least favorite food: black beans. all-time favorite drink: cold milk with lots and lots of ice. favorite book: count down to grandma's house, favorite song: twinkle twinkle little star (and uncle nate's 'breathe slow'). her favorite piece of clothing is something that no longer fits-- a pink terrycloth skirt with the tiniest, cutest little front pocket, a skirt she wore until it begged to be retired. I continued to ask questions because I wanted to know. because it's the kind of stuff you think you know about a person (namely your own daughter) but so often don't. and it's true, some of her answers surprised me. surely these answers will change a hundred times over the course of the next ten years, but on the eve of her 6th birthday, I wanted to know. so that'll I never forget who she was on that night. she's deeper than these questions but still. you always think you'll remember the basic things, but sometimes you don't. so many times, you really just don't.
and so she turned six yesterday. in the midst of an impending move and a current of stress so electric I'm afraid to step in water, we celebrated a birthday. we ate breakfast in bed, rode a carousel, built a bear, ran through fountains, ate lunch with daddy at the varsity. and there were balloons, of course. and lots of family and chocolate cake with cherry-flavored icing and many, many presents. I woke up at three in the morning with confetti stuck to my cheek and immediately began to attack the mess of crumpled wrapping paper and ribbons, the party plates with remnants of cake floating in pools of melted ice cream that littered the living and dining room area. after that, I quietly walked into ava's room. she was sprawled out and pillowless, ummistakable evidence of a birthday well celebrated. I kissed my six year-old girl on the forehead and tried to salvage what was left of the night in the way of sleep.
hello, six. you are so lucky to have her.