25 May 2011

Lying in the Grass

Since we've been in New York, all I've wanted to do is lie in the grass. The grass is different here, softer. A totally different kind, Adam says. All I know are the memories I have of walking barefoot through the yard, or plopping myself outside of the dorm on warm spring days beside friends, the grass tickling our toes. That the grass was different elsewhere never occurred to me, but it is. In Alabama I rarely walked outside without shoes. The grass and the ground felt different beneath my feet. I feared snakes and fire ants, so I kept a safe distance, usually from a chair on the patio.

Last week, the first day that it didn't rain since our arrival, Adam got out the riding lawnmower and Lily and I walked the empty lot beside his parents' house picking dandelions and watching him whiz by. I showed Lily how to blow the seeds around the yard, then we sat in the grass and I chained the yellow flowers together. The grass was long, waiting to be cut, and we left an imprint where we sat.

I haven't picked up a book in over a month, but today I grabbed one I've been meaning to read for awhile and a blanket and headed out into the yard. The sun was bright overhead. I stretched out on my stomach, book in front of me, and took in word by word. For a few moments, that is, until Adam came out with the two dogs to throw balls for them to chase. I glanced over and noticed our dog Penny's muscular body as she zipped across the yard with the ball and barked until it was thrown again. Brownie, my in-laws' dog, is just as her name describes: brown. She is an extra-large labrador, a hundred pounds, give or take, and her gait is singularly her own.

I rolled back over to finish the essay I was reading, and my father-in-law Tom pulled his truck into the backyard to load up his four-wheeler. The dogs ran around the yard and my mother-in-law Sandi came out of the house. Adam held the dogs and helped his dad. Sandi talked to me about the landscaping and what we should have for dinner tonight before walking over to her husband and her son.

I sat on my blanket, part annoyed that I couldn't finish my essay and part grateful for this familial chaos happening here in the backyard with my daughter asleep in the house. Here is this family who has always been accepting and loving toward me, a family whose history I will only partly know and a husband whose past I will never see through clear eyes. There will always be parts of his past I won't know, just as he doesn't know all of mine. He doesn't know about the time I laid in the grass with a friend in college, guilty from kissing a boy the night before whose name I didn't know. He doesn't know how the soft grass felt after walking barefoot on the stone driveway as a kid. He doesn't know so many things, and there are still so many things about him I don't know either.

I finished reading the essay and came back into the house to a crying child, feverish and needing a cuddle from her mama. I left the blanket and my book in the grass, hoping we'd make it back outside this evening. Instead I held her for more than an hour. Adam walked out the back door and returned with the blanket and book, and I knew what I've always known about him: When I need him, he is there. For all the things I may not know, this one makes up for them all.

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