Charlie can whistle now. He worked it out on his own, more or less. One day, quite by mistake, out came a toot tweet, and he giggled, Hey! Did you hear that? I’d heard it and I knew it was special, this self-making music. Built-in entertainment, and now he’s whistling along to songs, keeping us all amused, and I reckon that’s a step toward a sort of independence he’s not felt yet, and I haven’t felt in six years.
That’s all about to change.
I am at Wenderholm Regional Park, and there’s but one cloud out over Tiritiri Matangi, and it doesn’t stretch but half way across the island. Brightest day I can remember. A little girl eating a lunch roll stands in front of our picnic and stares at the site behind us, where wails a baby in arms. All around, revelers, a cricket game to the south, a raucous volleyball game to the west. The sea to the east, gushing in and out. Bottles clink and barbecues mist in the humid air. A man walks past so tan, his scalp below his hair as dark as his back, water beading between his shoulders as rain on a freshly waxed muscle car. He slices chords off a watermelon and passes them around to his mates. A girl walks past in cutoff shorts so deep she cut through the back pocket across a tattoo. She smells strongly of coconut, and she carries a chilly bin of ginger ale across the grass to the edge of the sand.
I am under a gazebo surrounded by aquatic toys and lunch scraps, my own empty bottles and barbecue mist, summer just started, though already winding down in my head. Because come winter, I’ll transition from father-of-child to father-of-children.
That through which I’ve passed, I shall pass through again.
Last Thursday Charlie, his mum, and I took the ferry to the big city. “Anatomy scan” they call it, and we saw the four chamber heart, the two kidneys, the brain on the inside the right size, and all looked well. And we saw four limbs. Then a fifth little appendage. Yep. It’s a boy.
If you ask me what’s to come, I’m not sure. If you ask me what’s past, I’ll answer the same. For a while I imagined the day would come when I would get my life back. I thought maybe I would be one of those beach revelers. Maybe I’d bring a soda stream of ginger ale and chop watermelon atop a chilly bin. Maybe I’d get a sleeve of tattoos and whack cricket balls to my fielding little boy, all grown up. But I realise there’s nothing to reclaim. My life hasn’t been paused, waiting to resume, and I don’t care to return to a past that no longer exists.
I don’t think little Raymond, due in June, would want me living anywhere but now, with him in his present. After all, his life is a new beginning.