The Perfect Pink Tree
I took my daughter to soccer practice yesterday. I picked her up at school, waved bye to her teacher, and shepherded her to the bathroom where she changed into her uniform. Cloistered in there, I asked about her day. In the car to the west side, she struggled with her soccer socks. I can't get them on! she proclaimed. Yes, you can! You have a million times before. Our voices were exaggerated versions of themselves, sing-song. She smiled, continued to struggle a bit, and I helped her even though I knew she could do it. I wanted to.
She peeked in the plastic bag to see the snacks I brought. I always bring the same things. Grapes for before practice. A tiny apple pie for after. Water. She saw that the grapes were green. They are usually red, but the store was out of red, so I got green. I do not want any. I don't really like green. I nodded. I will have some, I guess. She smiled. Ate some, but not too many.
She skipped ahead of me on the path in the park. We stopped at the pink trees. She waited as I took out my phone. The light was weird and I couldn't capture the pink. We carried on. At the field, I wrestled her hair into a ponytail, urged her to wear her fleece jacket because we were by the water and it was so cold. She fought me nominally, but wore her jacket for a bit and then put on her long sleeve shirt under her uniform. Fine.
I watched her play. She zoomed and zigzagged and ran and smiled. There was grace in her movements, and grit. For a moment, I forgot how young she is. 8. I watched, but I also tucked into a new book, a small tangerine colored book by Anne Lamott called Hallelujah Anyway. I'd bought it earlier that day because I was a bit out of sorts and had some time to kill and books? They always help.
I read and felt my body relaxing, my mind revving. I happened upon words, not Anne's but Rilke's words that Anne later riffs on. Rilke says, "I want to unfold. I don't want to stay folded anywhere, because where I am folded, there I am a lie." I took out my black pen, underlined these words, drew a tiny star next to them.
I was so cold. When practice ended, my creature returned to me and I wrapped her in her white fluffy jacket. We packed up her stuff and said bye to her coach and got going. I was shivering, my teeth were chattering, but at those pink trees we stopped again. Go over there with the tree, I said and she mock-complained and trotted off. Up ahead on the path, she spotted a teammate and yelled goodbye, waving her hand.
But the light was better and I got my picture and in it, it looks like my daughter is saying hello to the most perfect pink tree. Pink is her favorite color. Always has been. We kept walking and walking and I was so cold and she said she was fine and we finally found a yellow taxi to ferry us home. In the cab, she pulled out her tiny pie and got to work, eating it with her fingers because I'd yet again forgotten a fork.
It was a short, simple drive, but there was enough time for me to warm up a little, and to watch her eat her tiny pie. In those moments, all was fine. I felt it, something internal, sweet, small, important: an unfolding.
I want to unfold.