Am become the snapshot newborn bundle of the early family albums mom has kept out on the coffee table since dad died. But that is, or will be, 2008. In 1970, January 22nd, I'm the hospital bundle in mom's arms visited by hot-breathed loud and jolly relations. On January 23rd, the bundle discharged from hospital and rushed from warm car to the first house as if the bright blue morning brittling my nose and cheeks might freeze me like a kid'sicle.
Am unswaddled only after they set me down in my crib. Under glow-in-the-dark stars strung over the stuccoed ceiling. They're peering down at me. Mom. Dad. Peering so earnestly I but briefly consider lolling out my baby tongue and rolling my eyes back. The idea starts me laughing. They laugh in return, and in evident relief.
Mom's shrugging off her heavy coat. Dad tugs it off her, lets it drop to the floor. Her hair back in a ponytail like that, mom could be a girl on a date. She looks at him, over her shoulder. They both laugh.
OH, PLEASE. TAKE IT OUTSIDE THE NURSERY. I'm kicking about in my blue terry-towel uni-suit.
They both notice me. I shudder. Sense am cutting a path through my early life I remember nothing about, reckless as a wannabe Indiana Jones thrashing with machete and without a map. I have taken their moment and cannot know its importance.
Mom slips from under dad's hands and, laughing, scoops me up.
"Hungry, are you?" Her smiling face blots out the sunshine over the ceiling, and the glow-in-the-dark stars.
Dad's giant hand slides in between us. His finger brushes my cheek. His hand rests on mom's shirt. Low on mom’s shirt. It’s a very un-dad-like thing he’s doing. "Maybe Snoopy's ready for the Milky Way, hon."
"I'm not." Mom lifts her grinning face to dad. "Not yet. Get the bottle. What're you doing?
Dad, leaning in close, is pecking mom's cheek. "Lucky Snoopy.” Her nose. “When you are.” Her other cheek. “Ready."
Yeah, okay, sorry, dad. I mean it. I can just reach my uncoordinated tiny hand, touch the little finger of his hand, there on mom.
Mom dips in. They kiss. She tips back from him, grinning. "Get the bottle."
She glances after him. "Not too hot. And it's John Eugene. Mister Thomas."
From the next room: "Always be Snoopy to me. Missus Thomas."
"You can make up your own nickname when you grow up, don't you worry now." Mom dips, kisses my forehead. "And you were naughty there. You want what you want, don't you, my little man?"
Sorry, mom. Smiling down at me in her arms, she really is hardly more than a girl. She has all her life ahead of her. I'm staring.
Mom's looking at me now. The tiniest frown wrinkles her brow. I smile, quickly. She smiles, holds me close.
Dad returns. The bottle is perfect. I suck the warm milk, fall asleep.