Birthday Magpie

Today is Lily Clare’s 8th birthday.  Every day I search through your lists for inspiration, but my daughter is every reason that I strive to be a better person, and to live a bigger, better, fuller life.

She inspires me with her inquisitive perspective (“why do we poop, anyway?!”), her keen attention to detail (“you have sleeping bags under your eyes”) and her imagination (“let’s pretend I’m a teenager.”)

In the celebration of the most inspiring 8 years of my life, I decided to post this story, written for her.

I Love You Like Milkshakes

It began on Wednesdays, lunch on main campus in between classes long forgotten. I bought, every single Wednesday, one vanilla chocolate chip milkshake. At first, it tasted like Petaluma summers, riding in the seat on the back of my dad’s bicycle; he always wore a turquoise polo shirt, and the asphalt rushing underneath hypnotized me while the chocolate chips got stuck in the straw.  I saved them all for the end.

That was before you.

Then, after everything changed, and you were very real but still unseen, an idea growing and moving, surreal but certain all at once, my Wednesday milkshake became an ultimate moment, sometimes the only moment, when I knew that everything was going to be okay, and I loved you with everything inside me, every part of me that existed before me, and that will last into infinity after I am gone.

One milkshake, four dollars, every Wednesday, memory, calm, everlasting love.

Because on the days that weren’t Wednesday, I will tell you, in ways I can never really admit or explain, I was losing myself or afraid of losing myself, and I am not sure anyone can say which is worse. School was the routine, and I was determined to finish, through the nausea and exhaustion and expanding waistline. Drinking 7-UP in writing seminar, vomiting in tech rehearsal, loud murmurs in philosophy class because I wasn’t just fat, after all. And in between the blurry memories, I remember keeping many many secrets, even from myself.

My mother’s face froze in place when I told her. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she just froze. And my father, trying so hard, bursting open a bottle of champagne, and arguing for the next two hours for an immediate marriage. For the rest of my life, in an apartment with a boy who was in so many places at once that he couldn’t remember to tie his shoes, or where he had parked the car, or sometimes even to come home at night, because he was out doing God knows what. Still, today, only God knows what.

And I can go back now and reveal that soon the two of us will drive around Los Angeles looking for the best milkshake, and we’ll find soda fountains and diner counters.  You will be the sweetest child, and the most polite in East Los Angeles, at least. My love for you will expand beyond Wednesday into every day, every moment, and exist far beyond the moment you were created, and far beyond the moment I will die. When we share a milkshake, you’ll drink from the tin, and I’ll wonder what I ever did to deserve such bliss.



(To read more musings on life and love, see Papercuts and Hummingbirds, Eve’s “other” blog.)


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