You find it in the small hand, no bigger than a silver dollar, pressed against your forearm as your niece finds her balance. Each finger, barely larger than a thick blade of grass, has left its mark on your skin though nobody could tell by looking at it. You find it too, in the fuchsia baby blanket that cannot possibly hold all the tenderness you feel for this little creature that has made her way into your life; this blanket gets bigger and bigger with each passing day so that you can loop happiness and abundance into each shelled stitch. You want her to remember that her palms were once wrapped around your thick thumbs as she learned to hold herself upright--you want her to know that she has always been strong, always been eager to experience this world. She only has to look at this blanket, or wrap it around her slight shoulders, to feel the support of her auntie and know that she, like her mother, is a force to be reckoned with.
This four letter word people bend into two kissing curves that pucker into a point looks nothing like a real heart. A real heart is messy, made up of pumping blood and so many veins and memories that keep it going. And something else that you cannot fully name but know it is sweeter, more life-affirming than the oxygen that this organ provides. It is that moment (years ago now, a recollection tattooed into your artery walls) when you said everything was fine, and your parents knew what you really meant was that you were slowly being swallowed by fog, and so sent you a care package full of sunlight, red chile pods, and pinon coffee. Yes, that kept your blood pumping and chased away the darkness. You were not alone.
It is on the journey home with your older sister and the promises you made each other to live as extraordinary beings (and the bottles of wine and long conversations that prompted those promises, now like so many matches lit and thrown into your enteral fires). Then when she found her roots and wings, you found another brother. Here is the solid earth-forged spirit that grounds, ready to remind you that you don't need to carry so much weight on you shoulders--shouldn't. But there is more. You find this ephemeral warmth in the taste of kimchi and oysters on the half-shell chased down with a dirty martini. This is always somehow accompanied by images of your brother arranging all your boxes, most of them books, into your travel pod so you could bring your life home. Or of him and wife walking through the park that was once your refuge on their wedding day. There was so much sunlight that afternoon.
And still, you find this thing--this beating, pumping thing--woven into each breath. You can't even look at the inside of an orange peel without thinking of long full fingers scraping away pith one orange quarter at a time to transform this fruity carcass into leathery hugs, a reminder that your younger sister is always close though an ocean separates you. Close enough that you can never simply tear a banana open with a quick tug of its gnarled stem but must carefully slice the skin apart from stem to nubby bottom so as to better preserve that yellowed husk; she would know somehow if you took a shortcut. And you think of the man that loves her. Here you know a kindred spirit, one who understands instinctively that the internal life is just as important than the external one--perhaps more so. There is much to be found on the page and the inward-turning gaze.
You don't have to be anything other than yourself with these people; you can be the quiet wildling with bare feet and kinky hair happy to get lost (found?) in a book or a garden--or a kitchen. And when you can't always give yourself permission to be this elusive creature, they remind you that your soul was forged from ink and summers playing outside with your siblings and always, always from feeding the wonder and delight that makes each day worth getting up for.
That's the day-in-day-out of it: the barely contained smile from your sisters because they know you are all thinking the same thing...and probably shouldn't say it out loud. We are surrounded by strangers, after all, and the thought is not fit for polite company. Even the frantic lick of puppy tongues on your hands and pawing of your furry charges when you haven't seen them for some time tells you that your life is full. Or the smell of green chile stew and the pure pleasure of a tortilla fresh from the griddle in the kitchen you grew up in that reminds you at the end of the week that you are surrounded by love.
That's it. That's the word. Such a small one for an awful lot of feeling.
Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational collection of musings touching on life’s simple pleasures, everyday enchantments, and delectable recipes that will guarantee to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe here.