I find a $20 bill inside my wallet. It is a surprise, which means it is unaccounted for and needs to be enjoyed immediately and most thoroughly. Your sister is at school and you and I could use something intentional and special, just the two of us. My mind races at the possibilities of twenty dollars at our finger tips. I think of a museum and an open art studio, or our favorite book store, but then my stomach begins to hunger the way my bones beg to move, and my mind mends when understood. I must eat. We must eat, but something special.
We patiently wait in line at my favorite breakfast spot in North Portland, maybe even the world, that is, the tiny spec I've tasted. Sometimes it's fun to make bold claims on something I know so little about. A woman comes over and offers you a small cup of orange slices. You purse your lips and squint your eyes the way you do when you feel loved. I ask you how she knew oranges were your absolute favorite and you can do nothing more than raise your shoulders and giggle. I stare at your profile, the way I did when you were first born. I am still enough to take in all of you. You pick the marionberry cornmeal muffin from the inciting case of sweet breads and pies, before we decide on the egg sandwich and a side of yogurt. I am calm and centered. Last night I took a dance class. I know myself, and I feel myself, almost sure and surely secure. You are mirroring my every breath and it is good, and I wonder why it has taken me five years to arrive here, the mama I always wanted to be. It could be the dance class or time, but it is probably both.
I am wearing bright plaid tucked into my favorite pair of jeans, and the only shoes I own that are suitable to wear sock less. My hair is an unbrushed mess, just how I like it. There is no make up on my face, and I feel beautiful. I hold you at the bar while we patiently wait and watch. Waiting and watching is kind of our thing. My coffee is hot, but not too much so. You sit on my lap while we whisper and observe. We watch bread baking in the back of the restaurant, records being flipped in the front left corner, and reflections I can see in front of me, but are really behind me, all the way across the street. I learn that a pastry case has nothing to do with pastries, and everything to do with the foreshadowing of the serendipitous encounters you are clever enough to anticipate.
People are watching us, but not like they usually do. It's almost as if they want what I have, like what I have and who I am looks good and intriguing. It is something I have not ever felt since becoming a mother. It is there at the bar, with you on my lap, wearing plaid and unkept waves, where I begin to reshape and define motherhood. Not for them, but for me. Our food arrives and I try to sit you in the barstool beside me. You panic and don't like the way it feels. Heights make you uneasy, they always have, and I wonder if you will be twenty something when I remind you of such a trait and many preferences that I have known long before you ever did. I place you back in my lap and I savor the smell of your shampoo. I look at my plate and admire the perfectly cooked eggs, inside thickly sliced house baked bread, soft but not messy, just how I like them. I sigh and smile and remember why I love this place. The smell, aesthetic and the flavors that fill the spaces between my bones bring me pleasure, and I just keep saying, 'and,' because I don't ever want things to end. Especially good ones, but even bad, because time is always good.
I am a sturdy structure craving color and calamity. You see I know a girl named Calamity and she fills me with anything but. Color and calamity, that is why I am here. That is why I chose this outfit and this place and this life. I place a humbly weathered napkin inside your favorite "twirly dress," and continue to admire the way you look and feel. I look back at my sandwich and wonder how I will manage eating it gracefully, if at all. I recognize that years ago everything about this exchange would have broken me. How I would have needed my own body on that stool. How I would have tried to give my body and patience so freely but would continue to fall short. How guilty I would have felt for this whole exchange of bodies and time and space. Our bodies, this time, and my space. Space and time and bodies, it is no longer mine, and that is a gift in disguise, something that can't be felt until it is known. Or maybe it is the other way around. My God, I have done it. I have become a mother, and a damn good one, I will proudly proclaim. Even when I yell, even why I cry, especially when I cry, and even when I am the most idealic version of my loftiest daydream, like I am right now.
This experience wakes me and shakes me, but I am more still than I've ever been, not to mention with a little human at my hip. I desperately want to take a picture. Any picture, but mainly ours. You are adorable and I have come home. The space is beautiful, the colors just right, the music so fine. It's something I want to remember, forever. Of all the moments I capture, THIS should be the one. But now these ramblings and this inner conflict, to take or not to take our picture becomes a burden, so I don't do it. But still I want to, until I don't. Until I settle back in my bones and our beauty and my cup of coffee that is still warm. There is no picture my Bij Neej, but now you've got me, the woman who was made brand new inside those savory walls of Sweedeedee, and it was just you and me.