My father and I, 1992

March 29, 2011

Today is Day 1 of my Spring Break trip home to California with my daughters. This morning I found this photobooth strip in an album, and it made me cry.

I would have been newly 14 in these photographs. My dad would have been newly 40. My mom thinks this was taken at the Del Mar Fair.

He is so dark. I know he spent so much time in the sun, but they do say the Welsh are dark. Look at my striped shirt! Madchester! That was the year I tried to do without bangs, an experiment that didn’t go too well. Later that summer, right before school started, i think I finally chopped my hair off into a bob.

My father died in August of 2009. I loved him so much. We had a tenuous relationship throughout most of my adulthood, but I miss him and still grieve for him.

Do we look alike? I find myself searching the images of his face for signs of me.

In so many ways I am so glad to be home. I’m remembering a lot about what has made me me.

This morning I did some more sewing on the new dress that I’ve been very excited about. I’ve been feeling very orangey-turquoisey-brown lately, and this dress is just the thing to welcome spring. Over the past week I have rearranged the furniture in my living room into a slightly unusual layout. The large low room is now a work room, with tables and horizontal surfaces in the center of the room. The sofa is now unobtrusively up against the front window whereas before it dominated the room and divided it horizontally into task areas. It has become a place to lay out fabric, or to briefly rest while talking on the telephone or having a coffee.

The television is in its own little corner with a rug and a chair. I’m going to make a stack of floor cushions and a basket in which to toss them when not being used – so excited about the fabric pattern and color possibilities! I’ve been enjoying my busy, productive mornings sewing in my new workspace. The room has become very conducive to working.

I spent the afternoon with Emily and Matilda, and then Tallulah also. While still at Johnny’s of Carrboro getting our afterschool snack, Matilda struck up a girl talk conversation with Emily and me. The topic was “how to tell a boy you like him.” I self-deprecatingly described my own poor track record in that field, and Emily tried to be be helpful, with her amazing and genuine intuitiveness. It was an adorable conversation. That’s when I realized what the name of my new dress was going to be. Every dress has a name.

We came home, still with a few hours of golden sunshine remaining in the day. I cleared a path deeper into the thicket of bamboo and wisteria, metal loppers in hand, slogging through in my rubber galoshes and red plaid skirt, gathering dust and insects and god knows what in my hair.

The girls used the bamboo to reconstruct their settlement in my front yard. I’m very impressed by the clearly delineated structures and areas they built with bamboo poles, wood stakes, cardboard trays of pinecones and stones, and stacks of windfallen branches.

Late winter has arrived, and it’s such an exciting time, when the days between cold snaps stretch longer in number. Some days are sweater weather days, and the sun shines, and the air is filled with energy. This year’s blooming and greening is about to begin!

And then at night I shiver in my absurdly orange cashmere sweater and nubby wool hat before curling into the feather duvet and warm quilts for my night’s rest.