May 19, 2019

Three more major players in my life are my godkids: Arielle, Michael, and Emma (for Emerald), as I mention in my long bio. From the beginning they’ve been a family of globetrotters. Maybe I should add that my friend Leia, their mom, is Dutch, and their dad, Manny, is Peruvian? Besides multiple trips to Hawaii, South America, and the usual European cities tourists visit, they’ve been to Sydney, Cairo, and Istanbul. And I’ve had the great good fortune to know all three kids from birth, since they live only three blocks away in a house Leia bought and renovated years ago. In A Patchwork Memoir I wrote a vignette I called “Movie Star.”

Leia says this time she’s going to have a water birth, that she remembered what I’d said about the documentary I saw—how the babies delivered this way sometimes smile at birth. So she’s rented a tub and installed it in the master bedroom.

We’re sitting on towels at Lake Anza, eating bite-sized chunks of watermelon. Arielle, just turned two, is wearing psychedelic sunglasses, feather ponytail bands, and a neon Minnie Mouse swimsuit. “She’s a little movie star, isn’t she?” says the woman on the next blanket. Oh, she’s way beyond cute.

Leia says when they’re out walking and come to an intersection, she tells Arielle, “Stay close!” And Arielle takes her mother’s hand and presses her cheek against it as they cross the street together.

I tell her how my friend Marcia’s two-year-old, Wesley, makes his little plastic action figures kiss and made up after a skirmish. When he thinks he’s done something wrong, he announces he needs a time-out, then goes into his playhouse and whimpers to be let out.

“Callie, come!” Arielle calls back as she trots down to the water’s edge. I obey.

“You’ve made a cake!” I exclaim when she pours a little pile of sand out of a plastic cup. “But it needs in a candle.” So I stick in a twig I find.

She starts to rock from side to side. “Happy Birsday to you, Happy Birsday to you…” she lisps in a soft, sweet voice.

Marilyn would have eaten her heart out.