“If you keep doing yard work naked, the neighbors’re never gonna introduce themselves.” My littlest boy smirked at me as I held a garden hose in one hand and a fistful of leaves in the other.
“I dunno,” I answered. “Depends who the neighbors are.”
Bo sighed. “I don’t think we’re gonna find out.”
It was New Orleans. It was hot. I added a bathing suit and he decided that that was as much as he could expect from a hippie chick raised by another hippie chick.
I lived in a bathing suit throughout the New England summer, too, on the island where I grew up. You can pretty much walk around in your underwear there, as long as you wear flip-flops, like you can in most beach towns, so my son’s modesty wasn’t offended. November beaches are chilly, though. Breezy has become windy, hazy sunshine comes clear and cutting. Bo’s winter wetsuit has long sleeves and booties, but surfing makes him touch his cold cheeks gingerly and call them “meat…human meat.” I stand on the sand, watching him ride green, foamy waves and jam my hands into the pockets of my sweatshirt, listen to the seagulls.
Some seagulls sound like an amp left on all night: burned out tubes, warm and fuzzy but kinda damaged. And some sound like bells: thin, no texture. All seagulls have blank, shiny eyes, so it’s hard to tell what makes them screech in such different ways. Time? I measure that by seasons and by four boys blowing out birthday candles. They get one wish a year…doesn’t seem like enough, but I guess it makes them choose their dreams carefully. Wishes are so revealing, so naked, we aren’t even allowed to share them or they won’t come true. Apparently.
My wishes are seeming a little fuzzy lately, burned out like a damaged seagull. I’m sure the boys’ wishes are clear as bells: too hopeful for texture. Good for them. Hope is good, boys. Hope is very, very good.
Happy birthday, Bo.