A tangible reason to care about the future. In San Diego.
San Diego is paisley from above. Curls and loops and whorls of housing developments; conceived at desks, proposed in meetings, and built by contract. All those lives, churning away down there, unknowable, each ostensibly unique, yet seemingly interchangeable through an airplane’s porthole window.
One of those roofs, somewhere in the pattern, shelters my brother, his wife, and the newest bodacious audacity in my familial web: a niece. The niece. The first, perhaps the only, member of our next genetic generation; our reach for eternity; our most tangible reason to care about the future.
I’ve met enough of our multicrazy species to know that not everyone actually likes their siblings; blessed to genuinely like all four of mine, it feels like a waste not to take advantage of this fact. So as I caught the 992 bus at the airport, transferred to the trolley among beach boys in flip flops and Navy men in spotless dress uniforms, and disembarked in their neighborhood, my enthusiasm was tripartite at the upcoming reunion with a brother and dual introductions, to a new sister and a new baby.
Oh baby, the baby. What is it about babies?
I don’t personally plan to spawn, but that doesn’t mean I am blind to the sacred burble of the baby. I adore those soft tiny creatures, with their jiggly focus and massive craniums. To be in the presence of an organism with its whole life ahead of it is a reminder to love your own days, and to witness the curiosity that knows only relentlessness and insatiability, that exists in a state of genius-level observation, processing, and adaptation, is to have first row seats to Potential.
Plus their laughs are like Christmas presents a week early; unexpected and pure.
I arrived just after midday in the vigorous San Diego sun, and my brother informed me that things were good, and/but that the wee one had gone down for the night at….10:00 that morning.
Oy. No, no plans to spawn.
But soon she was awake, all bright eyes and damn-bursting grins. Then she was sitting on my arm, a finite package filled with infinite meaning. Looking down into those eyes, I could immediately feel the compulsion to put this creature’s welfare before my own, to undergo hardship and do uncountable things, so that she might have the best life possible.
I can’t imagine what it is to be a parent. Terrifying and glorious. And utterly exhausting, down to the particles of fear, hope, and dedication that fill a parental bloodstream of anemic steel, worn out and indefatigable both.
Three days and one wedding later; one more sibling’s partner wholeheartedly welcomed to my family affection; and caffeinated with enthusiasm for The Niece, I again rose over the paisley whorls of San Diego. I still couldn’t tell you which roof was theirs, but knowing the treasure that lives below it, I couldn’t help but smile at all of them.