Me and Monica watch our daughter slump down on her little ass. Monica giggles with awe. I can't make any sounds or anything. We were just parked here doing nothing for awhile and now this. The hardest thing I might have ever had to watch.
Violet leans hard into the mesh sides of her living room crib. Her Michelin Man legs wobble and shiver. In her face, even from across the room, we can both see the determination seeping off of her. Her pink fingers ease up the crib wall, her back straightens. She lets out a yelp of joy.
She's up. Leaning on the top rail: saucer eyes peeping over the baby blue plastic. Yelp. Look at me.
I am standing up. She is standing up. Well, leaning. But still.
I am sort of throwing up inside myself.
Watching your kid pull her little bones/her sweet tiny heart/her country-plum of a brain up to vertical is probably not much different than lunch at The Hard Rock with God. There is so damn much to look at, to take in. And whenever you're ready, when you're done with all the Flying V's and the spray-painted records and the autographed posters from that Live Aid of yesterday: well, you can just sip from your big cold glass of ice and look into the eyes of The Messiah. Take your time.
We watch as our baby teeters above her familiar territory. She soars above the bottom of that damn crib. Her vantage vastly improved, she squawks big excitement. Her top lip slowly curves over the rounded edge of the vessel.
She buckles/her knees jiggle; she catches her shiny new balance. There is a moment of Drunkard's Freedom as she levitates on a tidal wave.
She goes down. Crash.
She tumbles into the bunch of pillows for the fifth time in five minutes. And again, she rolls around down there until she finds her bearings and shimmies her knees enough to get her sitting up. There is no looking over at us couch sitters. There is no cry for help. Important work must be done. Alone, it seems.
After maybe seven or eight free falls from new heights, I catch Monica staring at me, not Violet.
"You look like you just watched a buddy get shot in the eye." That's what she says to me.
I watch. We watch. We watch together, as our whole world keeps landing on her ass again and again. Violet goes down, gets swallowed by the body pillow I stuck in there. She dis-mangles her little body from the soft cave. She must feel something. But I don't think it's pain.
In my head I shoot back years, decades. To tumbling. Pile-driven by my own leap off a shot mattress, I can taste the metallic energy pinging around my mouth when I slam into the pillows on my bedroom floor. Under 1970's greasy over-golden bulb light, I can taste the lightly fragrant generic cotton of my pillow case. It presses into my lips, into my mouth with the force of my landing. There is a wonderful thud too, when I hit. It stirs something in me. Something primal hidden deep in the cellar of my guts. There is the brush-burn on my knee, from two jumps ago: its middling burning just feeds my fire. I eat it. I eat the prickly bolts of little fire that zip all through that joint. I hear my Mom thumping through the downstairs rooms. She's going to holler up the stairs at me. My rough thud upon landing shakes the entire house. I hear the glass in the archaic window frames as they rattle so nervously. The perfect pounce could probably shatter them all. Oh the majesty of these simple evening after dinner leaps. Oh the sheer fucking joy.
Me and Monica watch; my wife probably jumping/falling/leaping off some ledge or edge too. Just like me, next to her on The Here And Now Couch, she's probably tasting the adrenaline jets as they begin to shoot her off some long gone broken box-spring into some long ago evening.
Our pasts make out all up and down this MicroFibre. Our presents accept and ultimately blow warm sighs of relief over into the ear of this small unfolding miracle over there in that crib.
And our futures sit out on the stoop, smoking cigs, unseen by any of us three. They sit there in the Sunday afternoon sunshine, ready to move when its time. Ready to slip out of some moment still unborn.
Some falling on our ass we've yet to feel.