I get why people want to have kids.
I mean, I find myself wanting to tell people things. What’s the point of decades of delicately gathered taste if you’ve no one to reflexively impose it upon as “culture”?
Any child of mine would be proud of me for writing that question mark outside the quotation marks, by the by.
And any child of mine would know and use expression “by the by.”
To whom will my love of Siouxsie Sioux matter the instant I cease to exist? Who will put rosemary on maybe too many things because, goddam, it just tastes good?
I get little flashes of it. The happiest moments of my childhood. Playing my family’s favorite card game (Queens) while Vicki Lawrence strutted across the luxurious cabinet-style television as Mama of “Mama’s Family.” Cleaning fish. Husking corn. The way my grandparents’ cigarettes smelled. Being last in line at church potlucks.
That miraculous morning, out in the snow with Dad, trudging across the wood, God knows why, and coming back inside where Mom had made a broccoli soup I very sincerely remember 25 years later. This morning rises on a cloud of subconscious cotton candy, subduing other memories and rendering them in a more saturated light.
Soaking up my dad’s perspectives on music on the long car rides from Mom’s house to his. A soft blue chair cushion or the scent of Dial soap. Love and ancient sadness and a wood-burning stove. Fish hooks caught in hands. Women standing in deer carcasses.
Grandma asking if she looks ugly after her picture is taken. Grandma giving the camera the bird in a vain attempt not to be photographed. Playing “Amazing Grace” on the violin for a great-grandmother I barely knew and having her clap and make me play it again.
The demo of that hair metal song Dad sang so sincerely. Knowing I have the only VHS copy of my parents’ wedding ceremony (it is sullen). My biological clock is cobbling together the artifacts that seem to represent my forebears.
Kids, if you’re reading this someday: the meaning of my heart is the false but lavishly recovered memory of Sandra Bernhard dancing in high-waisted jeans to “Money Changes Everything” by Cyndi Lauper, and the long walk I took on a cold April afternoon where I decided to change how this story ends.