The land of make believe
Hope and I sat outside a friend’s house yesterday afternoon having a quiet moment to breast feed.
It was a glorious sunny afternoon, up in the San Gabriel Mountains. A woodpecker flashed past, tiny humming birds were darting in and out of the unfamiliar but beautiful trees and the hibiscus flowers were nodding gently in the breeze.
One of those all’s right with the world moments. My friend, someone I’d backpacked around Australia with a million years ago and drunk too much with on sun drenched islands in times gone by, was out picking his children up from school.
The guy who really was that rare thing, a platonic male friend, is someone I feel I’ve known all my life. He was a previous boyfriend’s best friend, and long after the boyfriend and I went our separate ways, we remained close. We pretended (when we were on holiday) that we were together if someone one of us wasn’t keen on made a move on one of us, we laughed endlessly, we squabbled from time to time and we always looked out for one another.
Once, I remember him waking me up and hitting me over the head with a pillow, enraged because I’d hidden his condoms and the girl in the thong bikini from the beach was sitting on the balcony almost certainly waiting for a night of passion. I was unapologetic, “She’s not good enough for you”, I shouted as the feathery blows were raining down, she wasn’t. He’s now married (and has been for over 15 years) to a remarkable, inspirational girl and not one who would ever have dreamt of wearing a thong bikini! I take all the credit for their relationship due to choosing the brown leather trousers he was wearing when he met her at a party.
They have two gorgeous children. We stay in touch from time to time, but whenever I’m in California I always make a point of heading inland from the beach to the base of the mountains where they live, its beautiful, and so very different to ‘my California’ of beaches and desert. Somehow seeing him now means even more as I have a little girl that can play with their children. We have grown up, well he has, the us irresponsible, party people of bygone days now happy to have early nights after one beer or a nice cup of tea and compare notes on our children’s achievements.
So, there we were lolling under a shady area at the side of the house, me contemplating past times, Hope feasting and looking up from time to time to watch the birds or the tree tops both waiting for him to return with the children.
Hope suddenly broke off from her feeding and pointed up to the ceiling above us, “van” she announced, “van round and round”. It was a beautiful wooden ceiling fan that was slowly turning.
She then rolled away from me and slipped down onto the floor, toddled off and bought back a small plastic bottle top that she’s spotted hiding under one of the arm chairs. “Tea Mummi, Tea”, she held it out to me, “sip Mummi sip”, she gestured for me to take the ‘cup’ and to have a sip of the tea. I did and we played happily for about 20 minutes me drinking cups of pretend tea and her pottering around trying to persuade me to eat “chippies” (flat leaves) and “cake” lumps of earth. Then she got distracted and found a “pebble” … she loves pebbles and stones and holds them for ages until she finds a better one, when the previous treasure is discarded for the new and shinier, smoother, larger interloper.
Then she stopped and looked up at the now still fan. “Sleeping, Mummi, van sleeping”, she said looking a little perplexed. I looked up, a breeze was stirring the coconut palm next door, I blew, straight up in the air, and then I blew upwards again. Slowly, surely, the fan started to go round. Hope looked up at me in utter amazement.
I blew again and the fan spun faster, I saw that the tree tops were beginning to sway all around us, “Blow Hope, blow up”, I blew again and she looked at the fan, now spinning fast, and she shouted, “Wheeeeeeee Mummi van round and round”. “Blow Hopey, Blow”. She looked at me, she looked at fan and she blew, gently and sweetly. The fan continued to spin. She looked absolutely delighted with herself.
A few moments later she noticed that the fan had stopped again, “Mummi Mummi van, bow Mummi”, the wind was stirring the tree tops again, “Hope blow” I said to her. She did over and over again, and the fan started to turn.
It was lovely. Was I mean pretending to her that we’d someone magically blown the fan around, no I don’t think so, she was thrilled, I was blissfully happy and all in all it was a magical moment in our land of make believe.
Then my friend came back with his two cheery small souls who dragged Hope off to the “jumpoline” where they copied her every move and I stood and watched. The next day, after he and I had both done some work and Hope had slept, we went out for a walk. I hugged myself with joy as he stood holding my little girl and showing her how to pat a couple of miniature donkeys at a nearby ranch, she was shouting “Orsey, orsey” and he was patiently explaining they were donkeys.
Reality can be just as good as make believe!