Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tony Chestnut knows...

Today's guest post comes from dear friend and semi-frequent commenter Kay.

I am grateful for my daughter Amanda's curly brown hair.

This gratitude comes with some basic background gratitude. I am grateful that Amanda exists at all, which means that I am grateful for the miracle of life that makes sperm and eggs make embryos. I am grateful for the scientific discoveries and freedoms that have allowed in vitro fertilization to develop, so that Amanda’s particular embryo could live. I am glad that her embryo came along with her sister’s embryo, and that they both held the genetic material of lots of people who came before us, many of whom I love. Many of whom had hair.

I’m glad that Amanda’s hair is brown. It looks like mine, though not like mine did when I was her age. I’m grateful that the twins had different hair colors; everyone except my willful uncle Bill could tell them apart as infants. Amanda’s hair, once it grew in past its puffy six-month faux-hawk, is a nice chestnut color. Toe-knee chest-nut nose eye love you. Chestnut hair will let her blend in more places than her blonde sister will. It keeps her head from getting sunburned, unlike Elisa’s air-colored hair. Amanda's hair color looks like my mom's hair color and my grandmother's hair color. It looks like the color of the wooden farmhouse table that she and Elisa are eating popcorn at right now. I'm grateful for the table, since you mention it. Dad made it. Now he’s Grandpa.

I’m grateful that Amanda’s hair is full and curly. That means I am grateful for the genetic background that shaped the hair follicles on her scalp. I’m glad she doesn’t have really bad lice or cancer, or anything that would make her hair not be there. I’m really glad, by the way, that she doesn’t have cancer. I am glad that she is a well child, a hearty and hardy child. Her nutrition is good, and I am grateful for that. Her hair puffs off her head like a cloud, except when the weather is cold. Then it statickly clings along her round Betty Boop face.

I wish that Amanda liked her hair. She wishes it were straight and blonde like Elisa’s. Elisa's is very similar to Barbie's hair. It is similar to the long, flat beach when the tide has washed out. The sand is wet and vacuumed flat and thick and firm against the ground. It can be dug into, with some effort and with some beach toys. It rarely needs smoothing. Amanda’s hair is like the newly tilled ground. It smells of life and dirt, it houses things like worms and fireflies, buttercups and clover. The occasional rock. It is not hard to work your way into the shiny locks on the side, rub up against the matted tangles in the back. I am not especially grateful for the tangles; I am grateful for the purple bottle of de-tangler spray.

What I love most about Amanda’s curly brown hair is that in the middle of the night, or once she has fallen asleep, or before she wakes up in the morning, I can go love it. I nestle my nose down by her ear, into her warm cloud of hair. Her hair and her head are warm. Wrapped around pillows and under blankets, they surround her perfect set of tiny grinding teeth. Her hair keeps her dreams warm. I nuzzle my face into her hair and smell childhood and parenthood. Humanity and sleep, warmth and comfort. I feel peace and reassurance.

And there is something else, a little bit more of something that I can't name. I don't have any words for this feeling, since I didn't know about it before I put my face in Amanda's hair a few months ago. It separates me from everything else out there. It makes everything in the world finally make sense. And it makes everything else not matter at all. It gives me a feeling of big peace and tiny, infinite thanksgiving.

I’m grateful for my daughter Amanda’s curly brown hair.


Anonymous said...

Well, so am I. And there's an octopus on that purple bottle of de-tangler, right? My daughters called it "octopus spray."

Mike said...

(I didn't mean to be "Anonymous" above. -Mike on stupidphone

Kay said...

I looked back at the bottle, Mike, and it's a ballerina. But a Google search tells me that the octopus and the ballerina are both Suave. So yes, we have octopus spray. I have now lost the octopus spray and bought the only thing I could find at the time, which was Aussie brand. One might call it kangaroo spray. It's not as good.