Friday, August 12, 2005

Hier kommt der Sohn

Dear Kai,

First, welcome, and congratulations on getting born! Your mama and daddy sent me your picture, you snoozing in your little blue knit outfit, and you look so fine and handsome and none the worse for wear, after what must be such an arduous journey that none of us, luckily, remember. You are not the least bit pointy-headed! Also, something about your forehead, that thing you are doing with your eyebrows, is entirely your mother and made me laugh aloud.

I have known your mama, Holly, since we were in junior high--we sat next to each other in Mr. Zukowski's sixth-grade homeroom, two gawky, greasy, lank-haired girls; I am sure that, by the time you reach that age, modern science will have done away with the prime horrors of adolescence...or, at the very least, yours will be more intriguingly exotic, in Germany. Anyway. Your mom and I have written lengthy tomes in each other's every yearbook; shared birthday parties, sleepovers, albums, M&Ms, New Year's Eves, spa days, and the flu; cut class (which you must never, ever do--be cool! stay in school!) to run to Ezell's in a torrential downpour for mashed potatoes and gravy. Together we have been camp counselors, gone to Prom, and attended our 10-year high-school reunion, all experiences we wish never to repeat. We lugged my 30-pound electric typewriter to her house and sat up all night typing one of her college application essays in shifts; 15 years later, I proofread her doctoral thesis. I signed your parents' marriage license as a witness. Your mom is the one person I know I could call, anytime, from anywhere, if things every got really really bad...and just by knowing that priviledge, Kai, I've never had to use it. For your mom, I'd take a bullet...or at least a lawn sprinkler straight to the face, as I wound up doing inadvertently during the wedding photos (ask her sometime).

And your daddy, Kai--he is the man your mother deserves, after a string of sub-par turkeys. Andreas is kind and smart and possessed of a dry wit so subtle, it took me a couple years to realize how funny he is. He knows everything about anything, and if he doesn't will research it exhaustively, so I am sure your house is now an impenetrable fortress of baby safety (and stocked with only the most edifying toys, to boot). Even when your mama and I explained "pep rallies" to him, he didn't hold our inferior American high-school educations against us...though he did chucklingly murmur "pep!" to himself, in wonder, for about a week. He also stuck up for me when, visiting, I mistakenly used your fancy German super-double-fat-plus cooking butter on my breakfast toast.

There is something so hopeful about a baby, Kai; you're a vessel of pure and limitless potential, a bundle of joy and of tangible proof that anything, anything at all, can happen. I read the e-mail announcing your birth, Wednesday morning, and while I was driving to work I was thinking, for some reason, about your mother and I, a decade ago. She was living in Portland, Oregon, then, just a few hours away, and I wondered why we didn't see more of each other. I had to push myself to remember us then--we were broke and had crappy jobs and cheap apartments and doltish boyfriends whose names I can barely remember. We were young and our lives were narrow and tough, at the time, and we had little chance to get together. But now look! We have houses and cars and happy grownup lives. Our communications fly around the world with the click of a button...and our selves can fly right after them, without much more effort. Your mama has your daddy, and now they have you, baby Kai...and let me tell you, the sight and the word and the very fact of you gives me new hope, as well. In you, Kai, the world is made over, and anything at all is possible.

I love you already and cannot wait to meet you.

Your "pseudo" Auntie Kim

No comments: