Friday, March 03, 2006

The Continuity Fairy

Spectrum Girl has this thing called The Continuity Fairy. She's the light, the presence, the freakshow that puts up signposts in your life to show you how the moment you're in now, the one where you're slipping on the ice or listening to the fish monger guys talk about the Speaker of the House is related to the moment 10 years ago where you ordered pork ribs in a chain restaurant in Saginaw or the one car ride to the airport on your way to the UK when the guy tried to screw you on the fare. For Spectrum Girl the relevations tend toward the Neil Gaiman. Mine lean a little more to the Oh By The Way. Yesterday she kicked me square in the 'nads.

In the morning, a few hours before I got the announcement about MusicBaby's landing, I got an e-mail from Mrs. X. Just a joke she forwarded. I haven't heard from her in a while so I wrote back and asked if she was still in Florida. Sometime after the baby news I got her reply. She had to cut the trip short, the chemo stopped working and she's getting new meds this week.

Part of why I look so forward to knowing MusicBaby and Alita and PaperBaby in the future is because I've had great experiences with kids who are far older than they. I have memories like the one where Alita announced unprompted that I'm her aunt. I've got the one where Moonpie started spontaneously replying to my e-mails from her mother's account. I've got this conversation from the Athlete. He's 16 and he's all the cliches of how tough and unapproachable teens can be. I try to stick to our traditions, to the deals we've made with each other over the years, even when he's appalling me I try to respect him and keep talking to him in the possibly vain hope that he'll talk too. One night around Christmas, in accordance with one of our deals, I led with this:

"OK, I'll see you later. I might be asleep when you get back and I'll probably be gone when you get up."
"Gone, like back to New York?"
"Yeah, I'm going to try to leave before 10."
"Well, wake me up before you go."
Dude, that's like a fucking emotional academy award from a teenager. I know that, I appreciate it, and I'm so grateful for it. So I look forward to all the other moments like that with all the other kids maybe even a little more than I always have with him and QuewlKat and Steph because they led the way and thanks to them I have some concept of the cool shit that may be in store.

There's other stuff that I don't look forward to. It's part of the package and I'm grateful to be a part of it insofar as it is, but I'm not looking forward to it.

I don't look forward to The Athlete joining the service. Not these days. He's big and strong and tough and he won't be behind what bunkers are available, he'll be in a convoy, he'll have only a 50-50 shot of having kevlar. Despite the fact that his age makes this impossible to express, he's good with kids, he loves them and he gets them and he'll be the guy who throws his body over a kid to save his life, if he even has that much say in the way he dies.

But that's just conjecture. That is easier to think about and plan for because it's only a possibility in a whole world of possibilities and there's no reason yet to think he'll do that. I don't look forward to it any more than I look forward to signing his cast after a car accident but I think about it and try to figure out where I fit, what I can do to help him walk that path.

For Steph and Bud it's too real because Mrs. X is going to die.

I could write a whole entry of just that, "Mrs. X is going to die." because I need a place to put that information, to remind myself that it's true, it's real, it is inescapable. It's too easy to be carried away by the excitement of how well that last chemo was working and of her hair growing back and how much fun we had together this Christmas. It's too easy to pretend that even though the reality is that there's an end and the rest of it is what we're supposed to do on the way to that end. But, in order to do the middle bits right, acknowledging the end is vital.

I am not looking forward to helping Steph and Bud say goodbye to their mother. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to her myself. Before any politician went to another continent and learned that "it takes a village" Mrs. X was in New England practicing that. She is one of the women who taught me what an enormous role one can play in the lives of kids who don't share your blood.

I have no idea how to navigate this particular journey. I've got a bunch of ideas and some really super good intentions and that's helped me out for over 20 years with Steph & Bud but wow, this is a whole lot more complicated than Bud's toddler separation anxiety and Steph's tongue piercing and everything else that we've shared up to now. And, while I'm going to do my very best, I don't know what to expect and I can't say any more than that I'm just not looking forward to it.

So from the Continuity Fairy I get "Yay! Baby!" and "Fuck! Cancer." in one day. Don't give me that circle of life bull, Elton John can get bent.


  1. I read this twice. There is a lot of interesting personal history and mythology. And code names. I like your tendency to make lists and manage uncertainty rather than go for the platitude or the conventional understanding/acceptance. A lot goes on in life. It Takes a Continuity Fair.

  2. Anonymous8:45 PM

    It's been a long time since I've had a chance to read this, for which I apologize. My timing, though, is uncanny!

    She did really sucker punch you on this one. I must defend the Continuity Fairy a very little bit, however, by suggesting (as you've often done for me) that she doesn't actually conjure this stuff up, she is merely charged with the unfortunate job of bringing them to your attention. She picks up breadcrumb trails and retrieves bottled messages. She's left to impatiently roll her eyes and point her finger at the obvious details you've been too busy to notice or tips her head with a wry, apologetic smile at the things you'd much rather ignore.

    She's sorry and means it, I think, and certainly doesn't blame you for not wanting to send her a muffin basket.

    "Spectrum Girl"

    (Heh. I think you know I'm not that innocent; there's no need to protect my identity.)