Posted by: alegra22 | May 13, 2011

interstitial space

He is speaking quietly, gently, but Sol’s voice travels through the thin walls of our house. I walk down the hallway and pause at the bathroom door. He is reassuring his new kitten, Ginger-Crumpet-Leopard, and Zaviera’s kitten, Sally, that it is now bedtime and that they don’t need to worry or be afraid. I lean against the wall, stretching my spine, allowing this moment to move through the shadows of the hallway. Dan is asleep on the bed, snoring. Zaviera is sprawled on the couch in the living room, her arms flung out to the side, her mouth open, her eyelashes casting shadows on her cheeks. It is just Sol and me and the kittens.

He opens the door just enough to ease his body through, his attention is totally on his fatherly duties. He doesn’t notice me until the door is closed and then his smile hangs for a moment in the darkness before he puts his fingers to his lips to warn me that I need to be quiet. He drags me back out into the living room, anxious that we might wake up the babies.

On the drive to pick up the kitties, I explained to Sol and Zaviera that they needed to be very calm and quiet on the ride home.

“I know you’re excited,” I said, “but remember, the kitties will be meeting us for the first time. They don’t even know we are coming. We will be strangers. I don’t even know if they have ever been in a car, so that might be scary for them. We need to be very gentle and let them get to know us, okay?”

The windows were clouded with our heat, outside the night descended in grey and blue streaks with the rain. Zaviera drew a lopsided flower in the air, smiling proudly and then giving me the thumbs-up.

“Sol, do you understand what I’m saying?” I asked. “Can you explain to me what I’ve just said?”

Sol sighed, “Yes, I understand but don’t worry, I’m not excited anymore, I’m scared.”

“Why are you scared? I was explaining about the kitties being scared so you’d know why we need to be gentle.”

“I know, but my brain was listening to you talk about the kitties  being scared and it doesn’t know that it’s not the kitties. Now my brain has told my body to be scared, so I feel scared in my body.”

I reached out and squeezed his knee, “Yes, sometimes my brain does that to me, too.”

Zaviera sung out, “I’m not scared about the catties! I’m soooo excited and the catties will be sooo excited to see me because I’m their new mommy catty!”

Sol scowled, “Shush, Zaviera. Mommy isn’t talking to you. And it’s kitties not catties.”

“You are,” she turned to me and insisted. “You are  talking to me about the catties, not just Sol.”

She nodded her head as if she could make me agree. She smiled as if she understood: Mommy is an extension of my flesh and spirit. The willpower of my thoughts can pass through my cells and travel across the  space  between us until they have found a home in Mommy’s heart.

“Yes, Zaviera, I was talking to both of you.”

I smiled at Sol. He didn’t look away or frown like I expected him to. He was too busy thinking.

I wanted to say to him, “You know, sometimes my brain tells my body that it is feeling what my children are feeling.” I wanted to tell him that when it comes to loving my children, my body is a creature of perfect, blind faith.

In the living room, Sol gathers a blanket around him, wrapping himself tightly in the same way we used to swaddle him as an infant. 

“Are you sure you don’t want to sleep up on the couch? The floor is hard, sweetheart, you won’t be comfortable.”

“No,” he lifts his hip to show me how he has used the blanket to create a padding between his bones and the floor. “I won’t fall asleep on the couch. I’ll stay up worrying that I am going to fall off the edge.”

His silhouette shifts in the static darkness. I blink and he is a young man, a blurred version of his father in the sincere way he arranges his bedding and explains about the dangers of falling off the edge. Time stretches between the warmth of our bodies, expanding and then shrinking back into place as Sol turns to me and asks, “Can you put one hand on my head, like this?” He demonstrates with his own hand and then gestures that he wants me to repeat his movements, just to make sure I get it right. “And then use the other hand to pat my back until I fall asleep? Otherwise, I’ll worry about Ginger all night and I’ll never ever sleep.”

I nod and before I can say more, he has further instructions.

“Also, I want you to keep your hand on my head and if it starts to get hot, I want you to wake me up so I can change into these.” He pulls out a pair of boxer shorts he has stashed under the edge of the couch. When I have agreed to his conditions, he settles down on his pillow and closes his eyes as my palm comes to rest on his forehead.

I begin to hum, as I do every night, and his breathing begins to slow.

I think of the way we blend into one another, the spaces between my children, my husband, and myself, where we become more than just a cell, we become a body, a family. I have never been more defined than I am in this space between the exhales and inhales of my family, and I have never been more unconcerned with myself. We pass through one another’s skin, adding to one another’s stories, and then we return to ourselves.

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Responses

  1. your words always amaze me.

    Beautiful.

  2. Sol is such a sweet soul. He will learn that they can be rough and tumble and sweet and purry and there’s not much to worry about, but it’s a lesson. I love how serious he is about his new job.

    Victoria considers our kittens her brother and sister and loves to play with them and lecture them and dress them up. It’s so sweet to see her love up on them and I’m so glad kitties are resilient!

    • Debbi –
      Yes, he has already been screaming around the house with them – luckily, the one he has chosen as the ‘boy’ also has a rambunctious streak whereas Sally, Zaviera’s kitty, is very much the lady…very cuddly, observant, and a little rough and tumble while maintaining her dignity.

      It is the sweetest thing to watch my children ‘parent’…it brings me so much pride!

  3. Eros, I wanted you to know that ever since I read Salamander Prayer the words and story has stayed with me. I read a lot, so for this to stay in my mind, was an amazing feat. About a year ago, I searched your name to see if you had written anymore, and Voila, I found your blog. I love reading your musings about your children, it is like liquid poetry. I too, write and hope to one day be published, but I just wanted to commend you on your writing and let you know you truly have an amazing gift. You make the everyday, seem magical, and it truly is. I often think if only I could capture this moment, and keep it on a jar beside my bed where I could always hold it, and reflect back. Well, words can do this, and yours succeed brilliantly. Bravo, and as always, I enjoy your writing.
    A fan.

    • Lisa,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me this. Unexpected notes of encouragement like this bring me more courage and support than I am able to express – although as another writer, I am sure you do understand 🙂

  4. […] anyone who invites me to come visit them half way around the world is a friend) who writes the most amazing blogs. Lately she has been writing daily about her three small children and while the beauty of her words […]


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