March 18, 2015
A friend of mine became a father last night
When he spoke, in his voice, I could hear the light
Of the skies and the rivers, the timber wolf in the pines
And that great jukebox out on Route 39.
–Bruce Springsteen, “Valentine’s Day”
You were born today, ushered to the outside via fluid and effort and love, cheered on by a village full of people obsessively checking phones and laptops for email updates from your dad. The framework of you turned this day from ordinary to extraordinary.
I listened to Waylon Jennings with new ears, thinking how you will get to hear him for the first time someday, the way his voice opens and echoes with knowing, like a well-worn piece of leather: full of feeling, but never sentiment. After the dreariest morning, the sun finally came out and the day of your birth became one of the best that a Houston spring has to offer, breezy and blue; I thought of you someday, barefoot in the grass, giving name to cloud shapes, face sticky with popsicle. I thought of all of what’s ahead. You don’t know what pineapple tastes like. Or what it feels like to fall in love. You haven’t yet felt your stomach drop out on a roller coaster. You’ve never read a poem! Or been to a baseball game! Or seen the ocean! Baby peanut, there is so much good stuff ahead, you don’t even know.
Of course, the world you just arrived in is inexplicably ugly sometimes, and the work of being a person inside of it can be daunting and draining. Your little tiny personhood is so fresh and so new and so miraculous, but the fate of human hardship is your birthright and eventual destiny. There is, I’m afraid, no way around this. But the good news is, so too will you inherit the astonishing beauty that this existence has to offer—moments that will take your breath, full of finger-tingling connection and warmth that spreads through your chest, feelings that cannot be explained. It is our most ordinary and our most precious miracle, this life, and it is what we have to offer you.
The thing that is both weird and amazing about being a baby is that people love you before they ever know you. I am one of those people. I love you because I love your parents—because I know that they are two of the absolute best human beings this world has to offer, that they make an incredibly good pair, and that they will give everything that they have to the raising of you. I have watched them nest and prepare and worry and ask questions and beam with joy at the thought of you. I may or may not have screamed and cried and literally jumped up and down when they told me that you existed, tiny zygote of hope and uncertainty and life-altering potential. Honestly, I’m crazy about you, and we haven’t even met yet.
Welcome to the world, sweet peanut. It is a wild, strange, and woolly place, but you’ve got yourself some excellent tour guides, and I think you’re going to like it here. I’ll be the auntie who gives you books on your birthday and who always has snacks in her bag.