Rolling on the River

Lately, Aaron and I have both been enjoying the Ike and Tina Turner version of “Proud Mary.” He jogs to Tina to prepare for the marathons he’s going to run and I listen during my 20 minute tribute to cardiovascular exercise.

We’ll sing it around the house, too, but in my version the song always begins with “left a good job in the city” while Aaron starts his with “working for the man every night and day.” We’ve got moving on our minds and we laugh at how singing our slightly different versions of the song might reflect a larger historical revision. Left a good job in the city or working for the man?

Every phase of life has a soundtrack, I think. It’s uncanny how listening to Norah Jones’ first album puts me in Aaron’s basement on York Street, drinking Shirley Temples and playing Scrabble, before we moved to Alaska the first time. Eva Cassidy’s version of “Autumn Leaves” and Dixie Chicks’ “Traveling Soldier” remind me of Kansas City, when my grandmother was dying. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is the drive from Alaska to Florida, Kate Walsh and Alison Krauss are the Tallahassee house, Rickie Lee Jones is pregnant with Clara, and now, it’s Ike and Tina:

“Left a good job in the city

Working for the man every night and day

I never lost one minute of sleep

Worrying about the way things might have been.

Big wheel keep on turning

Proud Mary keep on burning

And we’re rolling, rolling

Rolling on the river.”

When I was letting the elliptical machine move my legs for me this morning, I was with Tina 100% and felt like I was on a river, too, rolling with the current. As we pack and set up dates to cut off the electric and let the gravity of a big decision pull our tides in its direction, I’ll think of this boat I’m on and its big wheel that’s slowly churning the river’s abyss into forward motion.


About that packing. First, if you want your two-year-old to play with something she hasn’t looked at in the last quarter of her life, just throw it in a box, like you’re going to take it to Salvation Army. She’ll yelp “red purse!” for a few minutes and then toss it aside so she can have her way with the cardboard.

Here’s Clara, having her way:

Box #1: The Recliner

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Box #2: The Contortionist’s Magic Box

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Also worth noting here is that, while in the throes of packing, you will eventually stop dressing your child and she’ll go looking for the closest pajama t-shirt and end up wearing it as incorrectly as she possibly can.

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Now that I’m finished grading and Clara and I are hanging out a lot more, we’ve managed to go to the park every day for an hour or so. I’ve realized that currently my greatest parenting fears are those related to containment. I really like having this little person trapped in my belly. S(he) tries to escape through my belly-button every night with a couple good left jabs, but no such luck. Epidermis wins again! It’s so easy when all they can do is swim upside down in amniotic fluid. With Clara, I remember musing, what will I do when I have to give up swaddling. Then, what will I do when I can’t take her everywhere in a car seat. What will I do when I can’t keep her quiet with a little bit of breast milk, what will I do when she can walk off the front porch, and now, what will I do when I can’t pick her up and make her leave the playground, kicking and screaming. Is it possible that they eventually start listening? I’m learning, though, that one the best parts of being a parent is discovering how capable we are of change. Not only has Clara radically changed in personality in the last month—we sat through five books tonight, for instance; there will be an attention span, I think— but I’ve never been so certain of my own ability to relax into the reality of a situation and be changed by it.

What a little girl she’s becoming.

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