Dodging the Tick and the Tock

Grace is way in the back of the Suburban-type car I drive. She's so far back there that it's an hour later where she is. It's just her and me in the car. We're running errands on a Thursday morning. Our Thursday is like your Saturday, and our Friday is like your Sunday. Weirdly, our Saturday is like your Monday (just another manic Saturday) and kind of bizarrely, our Wednesday is like your Friday. So we don't say TGIF. We say TAIW. Thank Allah It's Wednesday.

Made out of baby coos.
I glance in the rearview at Grace. We're rolling down a broad boulevard lined with palm trees, and the morning sun is slanting onto the road in slits between the trees. Sunlight splashes onto Grace in one instant, then she's shaded for an eye-blink by a palm tree shadow. Light, dark, light, dark, flickering as fast as an old movie reel. Grace isn't paying attention; she's looking down at her lap, contentedly fingering a cheap toy she got in the center of a chocolate egg. She doesn't notice the oscillating color, the contrast of bright and dim. She's focused on something good. And she's something beautiful, the way her head is tilted at the cutest angle ever conceived, and her eyes are so soft on her toy, like it's made of baby coos, and her mouth is effortlessly, unconsciously turned up at the corners -- just a smidgen. It's like time and gravity can't touch Grace, like she learned how to dart unscathed between the tick and the tock.

And I wonder when I started to notice the light and the darkness, how they flicker over me, warming me for awhile, then leaving me in the rain, and then evaporating all the puddles again. I wonder when I lost the ability to defy the spinning of the globe by simply ignoring it. Innocence is a funny thing, I guess. When you have it, you could care less that you have it. You can't even spell it. And when you lose it, all you can remember is how golden it looked, even though you never actually noticed it, and how musical it sounded, even though you never stopped to listen.

But after awhile you start to understand that clinging to your innocence -- even if you could -- wouldn't be all that spectacular. Nobody would seek out the white-bearded guru on the hilltop if all he had to offer was a coloring book and a running monologue on how awesome his new shoes are that light up whenever you take a step.

But I watch Grace in the rearview as she murmurs lovingly to her new toy. And in a weird fit I want to smash all the clocks in the universe and stop the sun's arc, so there's no time anymore, so then Grace can't grow up. Who cares if she's never old? But then I think how, if I stopped the sun Earth would get too hot and gravity would get fouled up, and one of the planets might crash into ours -- hopefully not Jupiter because I'm kind of scared of the Great Red Spot, and hopefully not Uranus because, I don't know, that would just be weird. And I think, science is dumb. And I just keep driving hoping Grace keeps dodging the tick and the tock.