Respit / by Christina Rosalie

Bean’s bare feet fwap across the living room floor, zig zagging at random, humming a little tune as he goes. Outside the birds call and the sun has broken through the cloud cover, spilling light across the pine trees and wild grasses growing at the edge of the lawn. Bean and I are in New Jersey, three hundred miles from home. We slept together like foxes last night, his small body tucked into the curve of mine, our breath inscribing the turbulence of our dreams onto the air around us. When we woke, it felt hollow not to have DH’s warm and muscled back beside us, to rub up against, the fragrance of his skin enveloping us in early morning sweetness. But it was good to wake in a house with all the accoutrements of home: the coffee pot percolating, muffins on the counter, a washing machine and dryer, enough knives and spoons.

All day I allowed myself to linger, not quite ready to plunge into the business of doing anything. I felt like some mossy creature come out to sun, after such intense rain. Days of steady downpour left all my sneakers wet and my hair frizzy. Now in the sun, I am content to sit at the edge of the lawn watching Bean as he pokes a stick into a vernal pool full of dark slimy leaves and tadpoles. Then we find wild strawberries, plump and round as dimes, a freckling of red in a field of green. When I offer, Bean readily accepts, popping them into his mouth, then points to where they are growing, saying, “More!” “More!” in a lovely, soft, rounded ‘r’ way.

More than a handful of teeth are bursting through his gums: molars cresting like the tips of icebergs, incisors filling out a newly boyish grin. Not interested in eating anything today, his hands are in his mouth, or occupied with one or the other of his two handled sippy cups. He has been amazing through all these transitions—learning the lay of each new temporary home with only a minimum of fussing. Lately, he’s been coming to me wanting to be picked up. He throws his arms around my legs and holds on tight until I scoop him up and devour each of his round cheeks, whole, much to his squealing delight.

He’s such a different boy than two months ago. I missed his fifteen month letter, and here he is sixteen months next week, the days like a smudge across the page. Everything that was May is a blur of color and exhaustion in my head. The sudden lush emerald of the fields, the brown gulping of the stream high above its banks, the day in, day out toil at our house. Most different has been the way he’s suddenly grabbed hold of words. He names so many things now, earnestly, in his toddler shorthand, picking up the first syllable and vowel and repeating it, zealously pointing first at the thing he’s naming, then broadly around the room at anything that might add grandeur to his new found word. He’s so funny and expressive, it has been bittersweet to watch him grow and not be able to fully sink into every delicious moment with him, like I could today—poking sticks into a watery muck, and staining our fingers red from berry juice.

I miss DH in a panging kind of way, longing already for his hugs, his tender lips, his laughter. But for the both of us it is a relief to be this way: our little family spread over several states while our house progresses closer and closer towards completion. The kitchen is in and looks divine. So funny to have something that actually is human sized, rather than just bare walls and floors. The whole space seems different---less like a construction zone and more like a home.

Night gathers in the yard, bringing with it small rabbits eating clover in the twilight and a smattering of fireflies like small satellites zooming around the yard. Bean goes to bed without a hitch for the first time in over a week: a real bedroom with curtains and a bath with mama helps. Now I sit cross legged on the couch relishing the absolute laziness of my evening’s agenda: to write and ponder, sip tea, and maybe take a trip to the book store to browse the new nonfiction out this month.