Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Nostalgia

Another night is coming to a close, and here I am, having (finally) successfully rocked Alice back to sleep after her night feeding.  It's too early to do much of anything, but too late for me to go back to sleep. 

I'm sitting here thinking of Saturday nights past when Spiceboy and I were just creeping home at this hour, the hour the diners are bright and empty of all but the most unsavory patrons, before the corner flower shops open and the doormen come out and hose down the sidewalks, when you can see remnants of the night mingling with those of the coming day--empty beer bottles on the street corner next to the stack of morning papers, the occasional cab making its way down the avenue with a sleepy "hush" of tires on the pavement.  

I loved those loud and fast days, but I am relieved to relinquish them to the past, to let nostalgia keep those memories pretty and preserved for me so I can flip back to them whenever I wish, like looking at photos in an album. 

Now I am settling into my new identity, one in which I am someone's mother. So far, it has been the most exhilarating, terrifying, heartbreaking experience of my life. And in this new reality, I get to experience the end of the night in a different way; a light spilling across Alice's face, the smell of milk and baby wipes and the scent of her hair--like honey and something warm and delicious from the oven. I sway her to sleep while playing her the Platters, or the Cowboy Junkies, or the Mills Brothers, or the Ink Spots. We move back and forth, back and forth, until she gives a coo followed by a huge sigh--the signal that she's deeply asleep. 

And even though I'm bone tired, I feel bereft when I finally shift her warm, sweet weight out of my arms and into her bouncy seat (the only place she'll sleep), because  I know that I'm once again racing against the clock, trying to hold still for a second or two, to commit to memory the milky gray quiet of the apartment at this time of morning, surrounded by the sleeping breaths of my newly minted family. 

Soon these moments will fade into the pretty nostalgia I love so much, and life will change pace once again, one perfect pocket of time slipping into another.