Best of 2009: Dawn, Dusk

The following is a re-post first published July 16th.

Several weeks ago, an old man stopped me on the side of the street. He was walking slowly and with a cane, his back curled like a wave, his eyes concentrated on the pavement under his feet. He saw the wheels of the stroller, first, and then looked up, quickly, as if woken from sleep, his back suddenly straight, eyes kind and blinking.

"A baby," he said."May I?"

I pulled the shade back, revealing Fable's smile. She squealed gleefully, reaching for the man's face.

He gave her his hand.

"I remember when I had one of these," he said. "Isn't it amazing?"

"Yes," I said.

Meanwhile, the light waned, the world sped by. People scurried past, on route to dinner, or the dry-cleaners or a toilet paper run into Rite Aid behind the Newsstand with the empty dog bowl beside the LA Weeklys.

Meanwhile, the old man and Fable were still as hummingbirds, the universe chasing its tail around them. Always in a rush this human race.

Fable began to laugh. A small laugh that turned into a gurgle and then hysterics like she so often does when she's tired, punch-drunk on wakefulness.

The old man laughed back, quietly at first, slowly gaining momentum until, finally he burst into child-like hysterics, his eyes watery, body shaking.

Their laughter echoed down to the end of the sidewalk until the rush slowed and the world stopped and strangers smiled at one another.

I've thought about that moment a thousand times since its happened. About the significance of an old man and a baby hand in hand, laughing hysterically - like eavesdropping on the meaning of life.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Two weeks ago, when we were in San Diego, Fable got to spend quite a bit of time with her great-grandparents. Watching them together I was reminded of the incident with the man - the laughing and the touching - the smooth, uncalloused hands grabbing hold of the veiny arms of her family tree - of the women whose blood runs strong in her veins.

There is great poetry in the measurement of time, in an eighty-year age difference, in a body that has wandered the world cradling one still unable to wander, eyes that have seen most everything locked with those still learning to focus.

I've been blessed with incredible grandparents, three of whom are more alive than most people my age - active in their communities, beautiful and able-bodied, with stories as long as scrolls dare unfold. But there is something different about them when they're with my children, different than they ever were with me. Something illuminates in them - and in Fable. Archer, too.

A whispering of souls, a secret handshake of sorts - a collision of dawn and dusk...

Two ideal lights overlapping, from street corners to living rooms to gardens freshly planted, rehabilitating humanity in tiny increments, orange and yellow hues enlightening the sky.