The buzz of the heater. Time to get used to these things again. The shock of the cold when we first get in and the buzz of air blowing out at us, freezing cold at first but slowly warming. Turning on the steering wheel warmer and the seat warmer, feeling spoiled, and enjoying those few minutes when the warmth finally comes, before it grows too strong and I have to turn them off.
Winter brings noisier car rides and lots of adjusting.
These car rides have no rhyme or reason, really. Heater or not, some mornings we are noisy. All of us chatty, squeezing in words, starting our day with ideas overflowing. Some mornings we are quiet. Each of us drifting in our own little worlds a bit longer, before the day takes hold. Some mornings, the baby is the first to send waves of sound into our space. Only, he is all shriek right now so on those mornings we crave the silence.
On this particular morning, it was her sweet, little girl voice that broke the silence first.
“So, Mommy, how do you like your new seat at work?”
So casual. The phrasing and the intonation and the inflection, all that of a well practiced small-talker. Just like you’d hear at a cocktail party where two friends are catching up after a week, or several, of being in their own lives. So, friend, how is this life treating you?
It caught me off guard. So out of the clear blue and so casually phrased and so adult-sounding.
“Well I haven’t moved my seat yet.” Have I told her I’m moving soon? How does she know that? Where did this come from?
“I came to work with you and helped you move your seat.”
And she did. In June. After a long couple of weeks at summer camp, I gave her a day off and she came to work with me, which is always exciting when you’re small and work sounds so mysterious. What I remember of that day is that, during the company meeting she turned to me and said, “This is boring.” and I was thankful that nobody seemed to hear. And I remember that we got caught in a terrible rain storm on the way home.
She remembers tossing a few of my things into a box and helping me move them down the hall to a new space.
And she wants to know how I’m liking it these many months later.
“I like it. I didn’t at first but I do now. It’s quiet there which is good when I need to work. Thank you for asking!”
Her memory captures more and more these days. I’m sure we’ve talked about my new seat a few times since June, as I used it to demonstrate that I, too, struggle with change and new things and so I know how she feels when she doesn’t want to go to school / go into ballet / play with the kids at the birthday party. But oh the things her mind holds onto. The things I’d assumed would have been swept away by now by Halloween costumes and candy and playing in the leaves.
Having been pulled out of my morning world, I felt compelled to continue the conversation she so sweetly began. I glanced up at the sky and couldn’t help but notice how the deep blue offset the brilliant leaves. So I called it out to her.
“Look how beautiful and blue the sky is this morning!”
“Just like your wedding day!”
And yes, I’ve told her about my wedding day and the magical blue sky that rested above us all day long and how special that was for me. And, yes, little girls who love magic and weddings and sunny days are bound to remember things like that.
But still, she catches me off guard.
We are ‘on the record’ now. She remembers the things we do and the words we say and how we do them and how we say them. She remembers the stories we tell. And it is beautiful and amazing and rewarding. And scary.
Her memory of me is already detailed and vast. And it will grow more detailed and more vast. And more and more. And now I know that it includes a rainy summer afternoon spent in a theatre-turned-office, tossing papers and fold folders and photo frames into a box and watching me deal with change. And it includes a gorgeous, blue sky day, years before she was here to enjoy it, and the joy she knows I derived from it. Things I wouldn’t expect to be linked with me in her mind and her heart. But they are.
What else is in there?