I was pregnant at twenty-four. This is not computing. This is not computing because today, you, my first born, are twenty-four years old. All I see when I think of it is a giant infinity sign, looping between us, dancing. Here we are again, Twenty Four. Full circle.
I have spent the last hour or so looking at pictures of you growing up and what strikes me is that there is something about ones mid-twenties where we start to kind of come into ourselves. We start to own who we are. Like I said to you on the phone tonight, this year, I believe, will be one where you reclaim, or perhaps claim, your true physicality. Suddenly all of the pictures of you as a boy look just like that … you, as a version of the self you are to become. Today’s pictures look like your essence, like you are learning to take your own light and make it shine.
When I was twenty-four we lived in Walkers Point in a huge unfinished ground floor loft on 2nd and Mineral with no furniture. We had a big futon bed on the floor and more space than any house we have lived in since that time. We slept until noon or one most weekends and complained when restaurants stopped serving breakfast by the time we got there. When I was twenty-four, the internet did not exist. We did not have cell phones or computers. We had one small TV and we rented VHS movies from time to time. I was twenty-four when I took my first teaching job.
I hadn’t planned on telling anyone I was pregnant. I really was kind of at a loss about the whole thing. I had to tell Grandma and Grandpa because we went over to their house for dinner one night and Grandma was bleaching the sink and Grandpa was making shrimp and the smell of those things together just about made me faint. Pregnancy nose. I didn’t know how much a nose was capable of scent until that pregnancy. I anticipated that my parents might be disappointed to learn that I was pregnant. I was wrong. They jumped up and danced and shouted hooray. Since then, since that very first announcement of you, everyone in our family has had a soft spot for you. You have invited us in since shrimp dinner.
I didn’t imagine then that when you turned twenty four, we would be in the middle of a pandemic. I didn’t know you would be living in California, two thousand and fifty six miles away from us. I could not have predicted the level of uncertainty and chaos that our planet is in. Despite that noise, I find my ground in you. You are my roots. It seems, I suppose, like it should be the other way around … that our parents are our roots. For me, though, my children hold me together. I can feel, from the center of my belly right down through the ground, the tangle of roots and stories, the map of me, that stems from you. I cannot imagine a world in which you aren’t at its center. Even as I branch off into new endeavors, I only find the courage to because of you.
Happy quarantine birthday, baby boy. If in my journey since twenty-four, we have invented the internet, Zoom, FaceTime, Netflix, and all Apple products, imagine what will happen in your next quarter of a century. Fall into yourself. Own it. Be you. I love you, as I do every year, beyond measure. Nothing compares to you.