When Avery was born, the duration of time spent in the hospital recovering from her cesarean birth was a total of five days, and when we were released, the weather changed. Along with everything else.
When we got home, the windows were open, the screen on the front door was in use, and there were a handful of pink balloons tied to the porch. It never felt so good to come home. The house had a fresh smell, as my mom had cleaned every square inch of our house to welcome us home. She brought new towels and hand soap, and if I catch a whiff of this scent, I'm thwarted back to the most tender time of my new reality- having a baby in my house. I remember the smell of a pot roast simmering from the back of the house prepared by Ken's mom. It was all too perfect, and terrifying. I feared the night because babies are just ridiculous and need you so much at night. I had no clue what I was doing. Avery cried so much. I cried so much. Ken held steady.
I would sleep when she did, but sometimes dreaded falling asleep because she was going to wake me up so so soon. I would scroll through Facebook and see friends with kids who weren't babies and they were smiling and just eating sandwiches and I JUST WANTED AVERY TO BE A KID ALREADY and not this hard baby. I then longed to be pregnant again, because I was going to actually read the books about what to do when you bring the baby home, and WAY less about what size of fruit she was that day.
During the day naps, I would nod off to the sounds of my neighborhood. Kids walking to the park from the school I taught at down the road. Kids who were actually in my class, and I just missed teaching so much. I heard the usual symphony of cars driving too fast, and music blaring so loud, and then of course, around the same time every day, the ice cream man.
The tune that's played from the ice cream man in New Orleans is fabulous, as are most things here. I spent the first month of Avery's life drifting in and out of sleep, and I would either hear this song, or be thinking of this song, but for some reason it played over and over in my head. Sleep deprivation is no joke.
While summer is making it's way out, and hopefully ushering some type of fall, the ice cream man blends the two and stays around even longer than those humid days, and our family has grown to love him.
For years after, the bells of the truck would summon my children to race to the front doors, dramatically pull the curtains to one side, and watch as he drove past. It's been the same guy for the five years we have lived here. And EVERY time he drives past, he'll look to his left and see Avery in the window, and he'll ring his bell, special for her. Then it was Avery in one window, and Eliza in the other. And now, all three squeeze in and watch him, hoping for him to see them, and it's only about the best thing to happen in their afternoon.
This summer Avery has soared and grown. Avery has stopped taking naps, and has blessed me with endless questions about, oh, just EVERYTHING. I'll try and get work done, but she's just wanting to play, and who can pass that up. She's wanting to be read to, and then wants to try and read to me. She wants to look at sight words, work on mazes, create cards, talk about animals from the zoo. Her company has been the highlight of summer for me. Those couple hours everyday when it's just her and me. We emptied the coin jar and pulled out all the quarters, and put them aside. "This will be for when the ice cream man comes," I told her. And a week went by without hearing him. Every evening, upon Ken's arrival home from work, "Well, the ice cream man didn't come today. Maybe tomorrow."
Today Avery and I were gluing this animal puppet thing together and we heard the bell. It was like a fire drill. "Quick, get your shoes, I'll grab the quarters. Wait, let me get him to stop first." "Okay mom!" When race outside, Avery can hardly contain herself. "We thought you left our street! Where have you been?"
We walk around to the side of the truck where the pictures of all the treats are and Avery's face is a glow. She picks something rainbow, and I pick a drumstick, and we pay in quarters, and tip like crazy. Avery's so excited, again, that she's speechless. I'm just laughing because I don't remember the last time I had been that excited. It was a moment I'm going to cherish forever.
We sat on the couch eating our treats, sampling each others, and I grab the top of Avery's head, then cup the side of her face, and I just stare at her. I want to freeze time forever. I want endless summers of crafts and ice cream. I want Avery to stay my little girl and not grow up. I want to just do it all over again, and again.
Five years is a long time some days. Avery and I can go at it. We're loud, we yell, we cry. We have no clue what's ahead of us in those teenage years. But, damn. I love this girl so much. I loved her so much we she was a baby too, I just didn't know what the hell I was doing.
Why do the mundane, everyday events trigger so many emotions sometimes? I think it's because everything is always changing, kids are always getting older, transitions are relentless and happen constantly. But for us, here on Cadiz street, some things remain the same- we with always love the ice cream man.