There is an exhibit, an installation, a magic space machine at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham. It is upstairs as soon as you get off the elevator. If there were 20somethings in wrinkled tuxedo shirts offering plastic glasses of cheap wine I would feel like I had been transported back in time to an art opening at the Muscarelle Museum on campus. Only I would be wearing black thigh highs and combat boots and chasing boys.
Instead I am wearing a baby. And chasing six year olds. This afternoon I watched the “sand” made by shadows in the projected light pile up on my body. I watched for longer than I have ever watched before. I have stood in the path of these lights at least a dozen times and never did I see myself like I did today .
My hand on her head. Her body jutting out from my lower abdomen. I stood like this for months before I ever got to hold her. She is asleep. I can hear her breathing. We are exactly the same temperature. She can smell me.
Almost a year ago now I took this picture below. I wish I’d had the sense to include the rest of me. I remember snapping more than a few, I couldn’t seem to get an angle that didn’t make me look like the back end of a truck. Funny the things I worried about.
My pregnancy, Lucy’s beginnings are more than documented, both here and privately. I imagine I could make a flipbook if I lined up every bathroom belly shot I took. But it is not enough to just look at these old pictures. I won’t ever have her back so close again.
My big girl will be in the first grade in three days. After dinner tonight she climbed in my lap and I pressed my face in to the nape of her neck. Her fresh, back to school hair cut gives me free access. I inhaled her. She is still there. My first baby.
My little one, I can still hold her close. I can still breathe her in while she sleeps. Today as I watched the “sand” pile up on her as she slept against my chest I knew that I would come back again to this exact same spot. I would take another picture. First I will see the shadows pile on her back as she crawls. Then I will see the shadows pile on her head and her feet as she walks.
And one day we will get off the elevator and I will walk towards the light and she will not follow me. Instead she will head towards another exhibit, hot on the heels of the big kids. And I will chase her. And I will pick her up and smell her and she will be my baby again for a moment.