Saturday, May 15, 2010

Five for Ten: Memories and lust

{I'm combining two of the Five for Ten post topics, memory and lust, because for me, they just go hand in hand.}

My two and a half year old studies the pictures in my scrapbook intently.

He squints his eyes to see the fine details of every photograph from my trip to Egypt, taken back when I was a senior in college with only one semester left before graduation.

He's mesmerized by the pyramids, mommy's lip ring and the horse and camel his daddy and I rode through the dessert on a warm January afternoon before our beautiful boy was ever in a thought in our minds, before the word "we" was definite and before exchanging rings and vows during a ceremony were thoughts we had ever voiced to each other.

"Why didn't you let me ride a camel?" G. asks.

"You weren't there, honey," I reply while sweeping his dark hair with the tips of my fingers, the same color of hair his father's fingers used to dance across half way around the world as we chugged via train from Cairo to Luxor, crammed in a tiny sleeper car.

My little guy and I flip the page, and we're onto the next questions as we both longingly stare at my sacred book of memories. My heart flutters, dances every time we wander through the pictures featuring the young, carefree spirits I still see periodically escape from beneath the heavy load of parenting, the piles of diaper laundre. I long for those people who come out to play only after the little voices have fallen away to deep sighs of slumber. G., of course, dreams of climbing the huge pyramid steps and feeding the camels after furiously galloping through the sand on an adventure.

"Well, where was I? I don't 'member being there," he says.

I grasp for an explanation before finally telling him he was not born yet. This is a new facet of the conversation. I think, then I explain he was still nestled deep, deep, deep inside mommy's body. "Like when baby E. was in mommy's tummy. Remember?"

He nods his head. Except I cannot explain that there was only half of him hidden in the midst of thousands of other cells.

"What's that thing in your lip?" he asks.

"That was my jewelery," I reply. We've been over this one a thousand times. He just loves to hear about how mommy had a ring in such a strange place. It's funny how he's intrigued with the very thing his father was when we first met ... for different reasons, of course. My little guy's tickled at the thought of something being out of context. "That's silly, mommy!" he exclaims. His daddy, well, he thought about the context of a ring in a lip, too; but, of course, it wasn't because he thought it was so silly.

John and I had barely even said hello to each other in limo we'd taken to the airport, but by the time our plane was cruising from Paris to Cairo, we talked like friends. J. later told me he'd had a serious fascination with that lip ring and he was a little intimidated by my statement of style.

"Why were you and daddy wearing those hats on the boat," G. asks, flipping the page. Again, it's old conversation, he just likes to hear the story. And he likes hats, so it's always a good tale for him.

"Mommy and daddy went on a cruise on the Nile river for New Year's Eve," I say. "Sometimes when people celebrate the new year, they wear hats and blow noise makers, like that one." I point to the kazoos in our friends' hands.

I remember how thick the air felt that night. Haze covered the top of the water as it rippled, splashed against the flat-bottom of our ship.

Though we were sailing through the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world on probably the most famous river in the world, the lights from the buildings were dimmed and looked like faint stars. I stepped out of the ballroom to catch my breathe. John had been on the floor dancing with an Egyptian woman as her old husband sat in the audience merrily clapping. John clearly didn't have the feet of a dancer, but he sure had the heart. I found myself liking that about him, just as I found myself liking him a bit more every day of our trip that far. I leaned over the guard rail, alone on the deck, wondering if I could somehow swipe my fingers against the water, say I'd touched fleeting history at the stroke of midnight as I rang in the new year alone. I'd wanted to be alone. I wanted a rebirth after a semester of terrible choices, big opportunities and a guy I'd somehow let break my heart after just three months. I wanted to declare myself new, baptise my hand in the Nile, wash away the old, the dirty. John foiled my plans by stepping out onto the deck lit only by faint moonlight and a few canister lights. I didn't know it then, but he'd desperately wanted to kiss me; he'd wanted to press him lips against mine. Instead we talked the new year in ... a breathe of refreshment to a life lived in the grip of lust. I didn't know it then, but I had a hunch my new year was really going to bring a new life. I didn't know it then, but G.'s little face flashed in my mind as I fell in love with his dad's easy smile, calm eyes.

Of course, these are memories best left shared for when G. is much, much older, so we stick with the basic conversations of the who, what, when and where. But they'll be there, ready for when he's thinking about love and life and adventure beyond an Indiana Jones type soiree.

"I'm going to Egypt when I go to college, mom," he says matter of factly. "When I get big, I'm going to ride camels and horses and go to the pyramids."

"I hope you do," I sigh, lusting for that time and place, lusting for the young, beautiful, adventurous people we were merely five years earlier, lusting simply for the feeling of lust, falling in love.

I hope he goes, and I hope he loves, and I hope he lives, and I hope he builds big, beautiful memories ... enough to fill an entire picture book that he can explore, explain to his precious little ones. Enough awesome memories to lust over, recall fondly for the rest of his life. Memories, like mine, that make his heart swell as they sweep through his mind like an unexpected shooting star in a night sky, coming at the perfect moments of darkness, reminding him that there's always light.


  1. Very, very sweet. Loved the line about dipping your hand in the Nile. It is so funny trying to explain to little kids that yes, Mommy and Daddy did have a life before they were born!

  2. Such a beautiful story-- Hy, you make me cry with every blog... I love how you make me recall things in myself and them give those feelings a name, something I have always had trouble doing. Thank you for sharing your story <3

  3. What an incredible start to your love story. You craft such wonderful stories, Hyacynth :)

  4. Love this.

    I too have sleeper cars in faraway places tucked into my memories of lust and marriage and love. (And now, little voices nagging from the backseats of cars and beside me on couches, begging the question "Well, where was I...")

    Here's to love and lust and all that comes after, during and in the in-between moments of motherhood, parenthood, life.

  5. Wow...a love story indeed! I adore this peek into your history!

  6. SO lovely. Talking to our children about our pasts is so challenging, isn't it? I find that my son gets concerned that mom and dad had a life before him. Poor kiddo. But I love your last paragraph--your hopes and dreams for your own children. We all have them, but it seems rare to me to put them in such direct context of your own past and accomplishments. Beautifully done.

  7. i love this in ways that I cannot even put into words, like in ways that make my heart skip a beat and my mouth feel a little dry because I can't take it all in. I know this so much. Luke loves to look at our wedding album and ask where he was, why mommy is so tan, why mommy's hair is so long, and it makes me think about those past days, about the wedding and the carefree days of no kids and how sometimes I maybe miss that person, but not really.

  8. Lovely. Thank you for sharing the beauty of this "love voyage" with us. I could have said Love Boat, but I thought that sounded cheesy :)

    Nice pictures too. Very touching.


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