This one is personal ... and from the heart.
I'm in this coffee shop after a visit to a doctor -- the sort of visit and the sort of doctor that will remind you your time on this planet is limited -- treating myself to a strong brew and a pastry. Everything turned up roses, more or less, but the reminder was vivid.
And, oh my god, I just saw myself walk in the door at the age of four, big head of soft curly red hair, big eyes, an "I own the world" attitude, and a major league baseball in my right hand. You can bet I will not let loose of that ball even to eat the doughnut my mother is buying for me.
Is this my mother at thirty? Could be. I'm serious. This could be my mother. Willowy. Curly red hair pulled back hard from her face. Something in her posture and the way she carries herself is both confident and self-effacing. Of course, she has a sweet tattoo between her bony shoulder blades my mother didn't have -- I don't think she did anyway -- but everything else is just right.
And, now she's gonna read a book about zebras to me while she strokes my wild boy hair and I clutch that baseball and watch her turn the pages.
I can tell you, I know how that boy feels over there. I know what it's like to cuddle up to a small wiry woman who loves you with the patience of Job, who actually enjoys the book she reads to you, and who wouldn't think of missing a page or wrenching that baseball from your hand, even at bedtime.
I know what will happen. He will sleep with that baseball under his pillow and he will show up at breakfast Sunday morning with it in his hand.
I know what it is like to lay your head against the soft fabric of a summer dress, then go off adventuring. He knows she'll be there when he comes back from the far reaches of the room. She'll smile at him and tousle his hair ... and she does.
I also know that boy will grow up and always think everyone in the room loves him, or likes him, or should love or like him, and he will be astounded when he meets the person who doesn't. His wife will wonder what the hell it is about baseball, but she won't want to take it out of his hand either because she's strangely -- inexplicably -- glad to be married to a man who is still a boy.
--Lofflin, thanks for bearing with me...