Thursday, February 04, 2016
The Button Phenomena
Seven years ago today, you drew in your first breath.
When you were only a few hours old, swaddled in hospital linens, I was sitting at the lunch table with a wine merchant in a Bouchon in the old town. I remember I had the “gratin d’andouilette” and pondered this formidable sausage and its condition. I recalled, as you took your first bath, that it used to have a milder flavor, and more chew, and in my opinion, was more interesting when it was made from veal. No matter, seven years ago I had this shallow dish of chitterlings, seasonings, mustard and cream. They're back to making them with veal now. It seems that some problems always straighten themselves out eventually.
The day you were born, in 2009, I was still open. I was standing on the edge of a precipice, staring out to the familiar vista of my beautiful city, in a state of waiting, silence, but also an influx of ideas, and most of all hope. I did not know you were coming. The waiting had evolved through long years of holding my arms out to catch you at their instruction, the persistent writing of letters to tell them that we weren't giving up. The big question had already fully changed from a resigned "Why?" to a more positive "When?". The years and dossiers dragged out, strung along bureaucratic corridors. I had begun, in order to cope, to see my world, this city, this ancient teeming town, my home, through a filter of detached curiosity that was central to my condition. It was a fruitful time.
On the day you were born, after duly noting a window full of pastry with the intention of focusing on les bugnes lyonnaises, I walked across the footbridge across the street from the courthouse over the Saone River to the Quai Saint Antoine, my market, the place where I felt very at home. The Tuesday market had packed up and was gone, and someone had lost a button. I took a picture of it.
It was the first day of your life.
It was the first day that my waiting was over, and I didn’t even know it.
I just noticed and pondered the button phenomena: these little lost things (coins, buttons, tokens, pebbles, parts of watches) that God seems to strew in my path as signposts, flags. For an instant I sensed something very important may be in the works. Thus the photo.
This is all in retrospect. When they place a baby in your arms and this time you don’t have to give it back, something happens. The world goes from being an immense place radiating from all sides and angles to being one small central focal point. Everything flips. You no longer receive, you give. You are still the same shell, but you are now filled with living breathing, pulsating matter. The question is, if this baby is the pearl of my oyster, do I pluck it out, slurp up the oyster, wash it down with wine, slip the pearl into my pocket like a button (is this something a man might do?) and continue on my journey of receiving, or do I come to a stop and start with a plan about how I'm going to help the pearl to grow?
You are seven today. You got a new scooter, a trottinette, the present you chose to open before school. This year, you are learning to read. You will learn so many wonderful things. And your maman? This is the year she is putting herself again into a receptive state. She is practicing herself again to a state of conscious open reception.