September in California
This morning I woke up early, after a night of nursing and infant Tylenol and rocking a teething baby. Usually if Sophie wakes up early I'll change her, feed her, and put her back down and we all sleep another hour or two, but today I felt simultaneously restless and well-rested, so going back to sleep felt risky--I really hate trying to sneak in an early morning nap and waking up feeling worse than I did when I was awake earlier.
We've been leaving Ender out at night instead of putting him in his crate, and when I returned to our bedroom he had snuck in from across the hall and curled up into my warm spot in the bed. He was sleeping with his eyes tight so shut, a thing he does when he feels like he can finally relax. "The baby's not crying, dad's right here next to me, mom is back...ahhhh"--I can practically hear it in the voice we do for him.
He is definitely not getting as much exercise as he needs these days. We hired a dog walker a few times a week which helps, but I have this annoying thing where I feel like I should be able to do it all. Sophie is getting too big to wear while I walk him and I haven't mastered the leash and stroller combination yet, so if it doesn't happen before she wakes up or after she goes to bed, he and I don't usually go on walks together anymore, which makes me sad--that used to really be our thing.
So I leashed him up, put on a sweater, and snuck out of a sleepy house with my dog--into the quiet, early morning; sun still not quite up yet, cars still in the driveways, misty haze hovering, chilly air fragrant with eucalyptus.
We moved into a new house two months ago, and even though it's only a mile away from the other one, the entire vibe is different. Orange trees along the sidewalks have been traded for figs and apples, and I always walk Ender down a long road that's lined with eucalyptus trees--a plant with a look and scent that bring me back to being a kid in Half Moon Bay for chilly summers with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sometimes you can't smell them very well, but when the air is cold and wet (the way it so often is in the late summer and early fall here in the Bay Area), you can't ignore it.
I pulled my sweater closer around me and started thinking about how two years ago we were on the road, leaving hot and muggy North Carolina and passing through Tennessee, Alabama, and Kansas, before waking up in chilly Colorado on the first day of autumn, then continuing on through Utah, bundling up for another early morning walk in 40-degree Lake Tahoe, and finally arriving in Silicon Valley. It was such an adventure, just me and Rob and Ender. It literally felt like we were traveling toward our new life and a new season, as every state got chillier and chillier and we rearranged our luggage, trading our shorts for sweaters.
And now Sophie is here, our next great adventure, and I'm beside myself with excitement and a little nostalgia as her first autumn approaches along with her first birthday. Life in California is so new to us still sometimes, but I have childhood memories here that run deep.
I can already picture her toddling around with a little pom-pom hat on her strawberry blonde head--riding a train on a farm, reaching out her tiny hand at a petting zoo, picking out a pumpkin in Half Moon Bay on a late September afternoon; feeling that coastal breeze on her little face and smelling the eucalyptus in the air like I did before her for years and years and years.