Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Eleri, Adventuress

When Clio was just 2 months old, I brought her to Minnesota, where she met, among others, my childhood friends Lizzie and Carrie and their kids. Greta was about 18 months old at the time and very interested in the baby; I remember Carrie saying to her daughter to be careful, that Clio was not "the rough-and-tumble model" like her.

It's true, Clio is a more sensitive type; but you, Eleri, are our little brute, big and strong. From your sturdy beginnings and impatient entry to the world, you have had an appetite for adventure. Seeing what there is to see has been your siren call.

You are the one who rolled off the bed as a baby. You are constantly diving for things that interest you, away from whoever is doing their best to hold your squirming form. Our little world is not enough for you; I keep saying, maybe there's an age-appropriate developmental toy we can get to engage you, to distract you, to keep you out from underfoot for a while. Your sister, though not particularly cautious, does her exploring through books, always has; an armchair traveler like me. You think books are skateboards, snowboards, locomotives to get you where you're going. Perhaps this is why I'm so in love with you these days: you're like your father, eager for adventure, fearless, and delighted by what you find wherever you look. Clio and I will live in imagination and tell each other stories. Maybe you will be the one to notice all the details of the real world, like Dave examining the sunken beauty of rotting fruit with his camera, or jumping on the subway on September 11, 2001, pointing himself towards Ground Zero like a compass seeking north, while I sat in my living room in Brooklyn watching the events unfold on television, serving the neighbors chicken skewers and other appetizers prepared for a surprise 30th birthday party that would not happen that night, and disallowed my imagination from going to a place that may or may not have been worse than the reality of lower Manhattan.

We were just thinking that it would be fun--and telling--to predict your future careers at certain intervals. Right now, we think Clio will grow up to be a marine biologist, a vet, a day care provider, an actress. Maybe you will be a mountain climber. An engineer. A jock.

Because Clio and I are alike--tempermental, dramatic, stubborn--and because she reminds me of traits I may be sensitive of in myself, I imagine we will be at odds plenty. Right now, you are easier, and I think this sways me towards you; while I can simply pick you up and move you away from trouble, with Clio, everything is a debate, a practice in matching will for will, and I must tread softly. But later, if you continue on the path you have set in your short life so far, you may be the bigger challenge, harder to protect; how do you tread softly if your daughter is climbing mountains?

For now, I love the balance I see between the two of you, the joy you each take in the other, the harmony (or chaos) this will bring to our family. I love the idea of complements, both across-- between you and your sister, me and your father; and down- between Dad and Clio, you and me.

Yin and Yang. Sisters.

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