The other day I was driving along thinking about Banh Mi. If you’ve ever had Banh Mi, you understand. I was trying to remember who I’d eaten it with last–I remembered going to a restaurant on Rockville Pike with a friend, but couldn’t remember who. I knew it was someone super fun, and the conversation was awesome and that he hadn’t ordered Banh Mi because he wanted rice…I went through my usual dinner suspects, but couldn’t place it. Then I realized the friend I was thinking of was actually my younger son. In the past 10 years, he has gone from being a complete liability in public to being such wonderful company that I forget he’s a kid I grew myself. Yesterday was Eid and we gathered at my sister’s house for dinner and laughter, and the relief of being together. Not the whole family, about half the group was out of town. We voted to put together a video time capsule at the next Eid to be opened in 10 years. There was some protest against the time capsule being ‘buried’ in my closet. But those are details we’ll work out. I don’t know what the next ten years hold (that happens to be one of my greatest sources of anxiety). But these past ten have been…surprising, in good and bad ways.
Your opening phrase is “Tonight I’m…” be really literal and specific at the start, what little task did you do last night? and see where it leads, as in the poem below.
tonight I’m cleaning baby portobellos
for you, my young activist
wiping the dirty tops with a damp cloth
as carefully as I used to rinse raspberries
for you to adorn your fingertips
before eating each blood-red prize
these days you rarely look me in the eye
& your long shagged hair hides your smile
I don’t expect you to remember or
understand the many ways I’ve kept you
alive or the life my love for you
has made me live
“The life my love for you/has made me live”
Here’s mine–don’t overthink it, just see what happens:
Tonight, like every Sunday, I set the coffee maker to self-clean
and sit beside you under our favorite tattered throw.
On the screen light streaks behind heroes and villains
moving faster than is reasonable. Today’s episode is about
time travel, about finding the future scarred by what
cannot be undone. I don’t care what happens to these flat,
high-heeled characters, perpetually trapped in three-episode crises
but I like when you and I feel the same thing, how you grip my arm
just before the action, burrow your body into mine as if
the danger on screen could hurt you, as if I could protect you
I almost believe it myself, say, It’s okay, I’m right here.
Behind us the machine churns out hot water
that smells of the real thing.
A lot has been going on in the family and community, and this year we couldn’t get it together to coordinate the gift exchange we usually have the kids do. So instead the kids chose charities to give to and then talk about the causes they believe in during our usual gift exchange time. There was definitely a range of investment in the idea–from last minute thoughts to a video presentation. These are the charities our kids gave to in honor of one another.