Here at the Shivpuri White House, the routine is very often just my style: relaxed and peaceful, but never for a moment dull. The family was disbelieving yesterday when I told someone on the phone that the peace keeps my writing flowing, because the frequent fanfiction is not necessarily a valid outlet in their eyes. But luckily for them and blissfully for me, today was the kind of day so perfect I can’t end it in any other way except to play You’ll Be In My Heart on Youtube and let my heart speak for itself.
I love babies and pets and I can’t really understand how anyone can not, to be quite frank. But it was the combination of both that made today the perfect day. Getting lost in an excellent novel until I dozed off in the super-comfortable blue leather recliners in our link was an ideal morning, so I didn’t feel the absence of a nap despite the heat starting to set in.
Gayatri of course is less of a fan of the strong sun because it means she has to stay indoors more often, the girl is more adventurous and outdoorsy than I can relate to. I live for the rare quiet moments when she chooses my lap to curl up on, thumb firmly in her mouth, even if it is just to demand her favorite nursery rhymes on Youtube. I play the auntie card all the time; because I know my days to grab those memories are limited every year.
Her old football was punctured recently and the latest trip to town was productive for my girl. Sam returned home with a plastic cricket bat, a small white plastic ball to hit it with and a mini basketball. My own hand-eye coordination is utterly hopeless, but for hours I soaked up the feeling of being needed to slam the little ball around for her with the bat. Once it rolled behind a chest of drawers and the face she made was the cutest thing, along with a surprised little hand motion to indicate the disappearance of her precious ball. For ages she chased that ball around the entrance hall, crawling at times and running impossibly fast at others.
I think the main reason the words are flowing tonight is some kind of desperation to commit to memory how her gleeful laughter sounded. Last time I met her was ten months ago, at five months old instead of fifteen she couldn’t even roll over yet and her laughter was for something as simple as a rattle shaking in her face.
Fifteen month olds are temperamental, I’m learning now. The girl who can blow kisses fearlessly to a roomful of people she loves made her adorable squawk of protest when I tried to take video of her today. That’s why this piece is happening, to rave about my happy bubble and hold on to it next time I need that feeling of pure joy. When she’d had enough of chasing after the little ball, Gayatri lay down suddenly on the cool tiles of the entrance hall floor, as if determined to go to sleep on the spot.
It didn’t last long but then every moment is fleeting with this girl, and as a creature of habit I admire her fearless spirit. Of course at her age it’s because she doesn’t know any better, but I hope she never loses that easy smile and endless curiosity. The way she dribbles imaginary basketballs watching the schoolboys play with a ball she can barely lift, feeds her loved ones imaginary food from her empty bowl and touches peoples feet for no reason – these are the things I will carry with me when I inevitably miss her.
I have the embarrassing feeling my life-size toy baby doll will find her way out of the storage in the coming months, because the instinct with Gayatri I too rarely get to act on is to snuggle and protect her with all my heart. I hope someday she feels the love in the baby blanket I knitted her, because the peals of laughter as we played hide and seek behind bushes and living room drapes is all I’ll ever need. Since her conception that little girl has been the missing piece I didn’t realize my family needed. Their world revolves around her and she holds my happiest and most peaceful memories in her little hands. The longing to just steal her when she climbed into my empty suitcase voluntarily was unbelievable; it’s too bad her parents adore her (kidding, sort of).
Between her love of hiding behind the curtain and the addiction to the red gravel I demanded be flown all the way to Switzerland when I was two, in some ways Gayatri does remind me of myself. Every day with her is a trip down memory lane in subtle ways, like the time I was on a flight with her and she demanded her favorite book be unpacked right at the baggage claim. Today we put some of the red gravel in an empty plastic bottle, so she could drag it along on the dog leash instead of taking herself for a walk. For some reason the rattling noise the gravel made in the plastic bottle scared her and that nervous face was again so cute I would have loved to have captured it. She has that same reaction to the spinning Barbie which wrongly calls itself a Frozen doll. I can’t blame her for that one; the Barbie looks nothing like Queen Elsa and plays the same two lines of Let It Go over and over again. It’s hardly an improvement from the singing Minion toy she once loved, but this doll sometimes freaks her out because the head has a tendency to fall off, it’s slightly disturbing, never mind for a baby.
By the time I went for my daily walk this evening, a sliver of moonlight was up in the sky already. As ever, those few circuits of the driveway was where I tuned into the peace of the day, playing a fitting song from One Tree Hill’s soundtrack, Feeder’s Feeling A Moment. I felt every crunch of my beloved red gravel under my shoes which never stay their clean black for long out here. And feeling the moment, I was thinking of Max, who is the reason I visit the expanding pet cemetery every day. The red leash Gayatri insists on being walked around with these days was once his and seeing her fascination with it, it’s like he’s still here.
What made today complete was Cloey climbing into the space between our legs when Mom and I sat on the floor to play with Gayatri. It gets no better than the freedom to read myself to sleep and then awaken to a dog and baby, both equally desperate to play and be loved. Luckily for them, that’s what I do best and luckily for me, they exist. At the risk of super-predictably ending this capture of a blissful day, to quote One Tree Hill “In my heaven, it’s you and me.” This day was in every way, my version of heaven and I will hold on to it with these words, my memories and the endless love I feel, always.