02 September 2011

Naomi, growing up

Naomi is going to school next week. She will be at school from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. A whole day, really. Yoko will be at home with the two girls instead of the three. Naomi and I will be gone just about the same amount of time each day. How weird is that.

I usually get up before everyone in the house, at five or five-thirty. I work out on days that I work out, or look at the Internet. I make breakfast and eat and usually empty the dishwasher and the laundry machine when it's done. The sounds of the kids upstairs grows: someone cries, another cries, then laughing and then they start to trickle downstairs. Mei first usually, sometimes Naomi.

Today, it was Naomi: she was standing in the door frame of the kitchen in a Cinderella dress and wanting me to look at her. 'You're beautiful,' I said. There's a party today for Leila, she said: Leila is turning two. 'Oh,' I said, 'Come here... do you know what happens on tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow's tomorrow?' I go to school, she said. 'Are you excited?' I asked. She just smiled nervously. 'Will you and Mommy wait for me?'

Yes, of course, we will wait, I wanted to say, but I didn't, that's not what you're supposed to say: 'No, Daddy will go to school and Mommy will come pick you up when you're done.' And she seemed like this was not the best option, but she agreed to it: I hugged her and she went to play.

Four years old already. I became one of those people who talks about how quickly kids grow up? I guess so.

One of the things about marriage and family is how it builds momentum. You can make jokes about it: we could never get a divorce because we have so much shared stuff now--it would be too much trouble. But the truth is that you, the plural you of the family, become a unit of something, all intertwined and interdependent and slowly making new, more meaningful connections with each other that make things even deeper. And it becomes easier because you get older, wiser, and more mature. You get less worried about things.

And love... What is love? I'm not sure, but these last couple of days I have felt so much of it for Yoko, for some reason. In some new way, some way that I have never felt before. I loved you before, I loved you yesterday, I loved you when we got married, but today, now, this moment, I love you. Does that make sense? How can you say that in a way that's meaningful?

So even though the future feels like a black hole sucking me into a new dimension, there is some (a great deal actually) of stability built into the five of us together. I stated the problem of the future clearly to Yoko last night as we talked about it: In one year, we will have to do something and it will be something new. There is no default setting. A lot of my friends that are finishing now or with me have jobs to return to: most of them don't really want to go back, but they can go back. There is something to be done. Yoko was talking about her friend whose husband has, like me, talked about going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to teach, but he has a job and is English and will probably not go because the momentum of his life is here, working here. The momentum of our life it towards a cliff, one that appears sheerer than I imagined it.

But. I will wake up tomorrow. Do the same thing. Weigh my body, worry about my ability to control myself, worry about the future, and stretch. But when the kids wake up, things will make sense. And they will continue to make sense through bad supervision meetings, sudden feelings of panic: I will look at my wife whom I love now, and will love in a new way next year, and things will be okay, because the five of us will be together. And that's certainly a hell of a lot more than anything I ever imagined when I agreed, in Japanese vows I understood, but didn't understand, to marry my wife. This happened. And who could have imagined this.