I have flown back to Texas dozens of times now. Year after year, I return from somewhere in the world to THE somewhere that held my little soul for all the years of my childhood. Having lived outside Texas now for nearly half my life, I notice it fresh every time – the rolling brushland, the easy mood, the crisp air, the yellow of winter grass and light blue of the big, wide winter sky.
This past flight home was the first time I was introducing this wonderland to my kid.
Our Baby Girl is nearing the 3 month mark, nearly 3 months here on Earth. You’d think there wouldn’t be much to introduce her to on a trip like this. What can such a young, tiny little person take in on any trip at this point?
First of all, she has never felt the wind.
Born during Minnesota Winter, she never leaves the house with less than 4 layers on. We cover her carseat in a cocoon that leaves a tiny hole through which she can stare up into the sky on frigid, short walks around a frozen lake. The wind passes right over her.
Two days ago we laid in my parent’s yard, just the two of us. The wind was wild and blustery, the sun high and the temperature just over 70ºF. Her bare feet, her bare arms wiggled in the air. Her eyelids fluttered, figuring out how to navigate the swift caress of Texas wind, wind that rolled over the grass and crashed like a cool little wave on my tiny little girl. When I rolled her over for tummy time she lifted her head into it, bobbing confidently, bracing herself with tiny arms, facing the wind head on.
Along with the wind, this trip has created other Texas firsts for our girl. On our first date nearly 6 years ago, her dad and I talked about Texas, our families and friends there, and the way the place has stayed with us all these years. We have dreamed of bringing our kids here. Now, we have them – the stories we will tell over and over about her first trip to Texas.
We’ll show her the photo of her with her Great Grandmother.
Grandmom recently cleared her 80th birthday, a leap she worked hard to make considering serious some serious health challenges. Minutes after we arrived to her quiet Texas home, Grandmom settled into her armchair and said quietly, “I’m ready.”
Her left arm isn’t working now, but her right arm formed the perfect cradle, a soft cuddle I remember from my littlest memories of crawling onto Grandmom’s lap myself. Seeing my baby snuggled into my grandmother’s arm for the first time melted me. When Grandmom cooed and talked softly to our Baby Girl, my sweet babe smiled back.
Back at my parent’s house, I built fires every night in the same fireplace from my childhood winters. I stacked kindling and the logs cut from my parent’s fallen oak trees. Kneeling over the hearth with my back turned to my family, I could hear the sweet talk of my parents. With my baby in their arms, they mumbled sweet little hellos, whispered sweet meaningless questions like little love spells.
“Oh there you go,” my dad would say. “Stretch it, girl. Oh, I bet that feels good. Oh yes? You’re gonna smile?”
She talked back, cooing more sweet baby sounds than we have heard from the 11 week-old girl yet.
And the friends. So many Texas friends texting, calling and coming to see this sweet girl. They gathered around, called her names like Beautiful, Precious, Smart, Strong, and Wondrous. They brought gifts. They hugged us, sometimes tears in their eyes, so happy to see us happy and together at last.
Yesterday we arrived at my husband’s family’s house and her Aunt told a story that ended with a friend of hers who watched a video of our baby and remarked that she looked “so kind”. Kind. She does seem kind. She has quietly rested in the arms of people who are strangers to her. She is already offering a gift – the gift of reminding everyone she meets that life is a wondrous thing.
These past days in Texas we have gone on long walks down slow streaming creeks. We have filled my parent’s home with our favorite family recipes and sounds of plinking dominoes and unstoppable laughter. We have cuddled up on family quilts in family yards while we sang our favorite songs over this sweet baby girl.
The weeks before the trip, my husband and I have worried and worried about how we will balance our work, our dreams, our responsibilities and most importantly, our new lives with our new baby. The trip home has grounded us in this reality – that the love we grew up with is here, always here. It is deep in our hearts. It lives in family and friends we can call on. This love is a north star in the sky no matter where we find ourselves, no matter where this sweet, little life will takes us.