Posted by: alegra22 | January 30, 2011

baptism of days

Zaviera’s fingers are laced through mine as she sleeps. Her newly cut hair smells of fresh apples. Tonight, during her bath, I poured a handful of conditioner on her nest of hair and presented the possibility of a haircut. She agreed that it was time.

We sat on the deck, the summer evening cool, the sky clear, the winds from the recent cyclone slowly pulling away from the island. Sol danced in front of her, clapping his hands and playing the clown – all for the promise of a jam sandwich in return for keeping his little sister happy. He distracted, I cut as quickly as I could. The waves in her hair refused to be tamed by combing, so all I could do was take a deep breath, squint, and watch the hair fall. When it was done I gathered her hair into a small ziploc bag as she went chasing after Sol, free and cackling, her hair already drying into soft, tangle-free curls. For the rest of the evening, she tossed her hair about her shoulders, twirled it between her fingers, brushed it away from her eyes and walked with a proud self-awareness that she had stepped over an invisible line in her life: She was now a little girl with a haircut. I was a mother who had successfully cut her daughter’s hair for the first time.

As I rest in the silence, Sol’s long legs slung over mine, Zaviera’s fingers tightening and relaxing, I think about the days past, the days ahead, and how, as a family, we’ve crossed over an invisible line. We’ve cut away some tangles. We’ve gained freedom and a softness.

When we were packing for our trip to California, I envisioned the adventures before us as a river teeming with flashing silver fish; all I had to do was dip my net down into the waters and harvest them. I would post blog after blog and each one would act as a record of our days. Instead, I found myself mesmerized. As the moments gathered around us, my net dropped to the ground. I dove into the water and surrendered to the spectacle. The currents swept us away and eight weeks later we have emerged, slowly climbing to dry land.

Joaquin is now walking everywhere, his arms flung out behind him like a small, proud penguin believing in his own possibility of flight. As we settled back into our home, cleaning floors, unpacking bags, rearranging furniture, I divided myself between Sol and Zaviera, helping both of them to become reacquainted with their rooms while Dan began to prepare his first lesson plan for his relief teaching position at Bethlehem college.

In the quiet of my mind, beneath the constant stream of dialogue that poured over me from Sol and Zaviera, I found myself discovering small treasures hidden in my pockets and tangled in my hair from the last eight weeks. I held the weight of moment after moment, like small polished stones: late nights spent talking with family and friends. The margaritas I perfected with patron and fresh squeezed lime. I discovered the power of friendships with people I have known over half of my life and the friends that are as close to me as if we’d shared several lifetimes. The days we spent with children clambering over us, full of questions and laughter. We disciplined between broken conversations, bookmarked thoughts.

I remember the night in a hotel room in Monterey where I taught my children to take deep breaths to release the excitement of the day. I had to hum to them for almost an hour before they drifted off to sleep. Their minds were buzzing with the electricity of having seen underwater things and the discovery that the universe is limitless in its wonders.

Tonight Sol was twitchy, full of energy. I asked him if he wanted to do the deep breathing. He nodded and added, “I might need you to hum for a really long time.”

So we took our breaths. I hummed. And now, I slowly slip out from between my sleeping children and make my way to the laptop to ground my electricity, to calm the twitching in my muscles, to breathe.

It has been a baptism of days. One by one, I place those polished stones like prayer beads down in front of me. I pull the strands of remembrance from my hair and I begin to string them together. I already know they will add up to something beautiful, something to hold like a rosary.



  1. Amazing! Nearly got a man tear! You write real good girl

    • I’ll know I’ve arrived when I earn a man tear! xx

  2. Your writing is really beautiful. I’m envious! I wish my blog about life with my kids was as poetic. 🙂

    • :o)!!! Thank you so much, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of irreverence and hair pulling going on! ;o)

  3. Alegra, you paint such a beautiful picture with your words. I can’t explain the feeling I have when I read them except to say that they affect me deeply. Happy Homecoming!

    • Thank you, we are so glad to be home. I appreciate your words. I needed to hear them!

  4. Love your way with words! I discovered your writing via “Salamander Dreams” in Writer’s Digest, and have enjoyed your pieces ever since.

    • Thank you so much!

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