{Larissa}

  
She is 

Quite literally 

Never

Boring. 

~Natalia 

Life Right Now {#65}



These weekends home, 

With the brother at school, 

It’s more often than not

Three girls in the backseat, in the living rooms, out and about, 

And these kids, these sisters- 

I’m so head over heels for them, 

And they’re so very fun, 

I savor it all. 

~Natalia 

Sunday Afternoon Ice

We’re going to Naf Naf, I tell her, my voice hushed. We’re sitting side by side, in a pew far closer to the front of the church that we originally intended. I suppose that’s what happens when you arrive at 10:28am for a service that begins at 10:30am.

She nods in enthusiastic agreement, offers a response, as all around us, the morning’s worship set fills the high-ceilinged room, and outside, the first snowfall of 2015 settles slowly into grass, street, and car.

Of course, we’re still there two hours later, as the last of the lingerers shrugs coats onto shoulders, tightens scarfs around winter-pale necks. We’re still in the stone-tiled lobby of the building, our voices echoing across the wide space, and outside, the snow is still drifting down, blowing across the street in gusts whose strength we can barely assess from our insulated standpoint.

Slowly, in stuttering stops and starts that have one of us ready and seven others meandering each in their own direction- slowly, we get ready to leave. Four of us leave, pushing through the automatic side door out into the white-sky brightness of a winter day of white clouds and white snow and white, swirling wind. Another has already left- he’ll meet us there. Two others, a third then, are nowhere to be seen, but coming soon, no doubt.

It’s always a process, leaving this Sunday morning building.

But then, we’re six, there on the steps, and that’s enough for a party- and two more coming later- and we begin the walk to lunch, to that Chipotle-style promise land of Mediterranean food and the most unique french fries I’ve ever eaten. It’s a two-block journey; to the corner, past Subway, Pot-Belly’s, Jamba Juice. Across a plaza and a street and another plaza. Past Fountain Square and a towering office building or two, and even the black steel building that used to be Borders. You know, back when Borders existed.

We’ve made it around the corner, are nearly to Jamba Juice, when the wind hits. Blowing across the plaza in huge, snow-colored gusts, the cold whips at our ears, pulling hair every which way, and shoving tiny bits of ice down the necks of our coats, into our sleeves, down our boots. Heads down, we shriek, the wind carrying our voices away just as soon as the syllables leave our lips.

The father far ahead of us now, a little girl clasping each hand, we fall behind, fighting against the scorching, searing, freezing winter wind. My tights quickly turn from black to white, as the wind plasters bits of snow to the thick knit. My eyes turned down to shield them from the stinging flakes, I turn sideways, almost discombobulated, thrown for a loop, by the ferocious wind, and our need to move through it.

Shrieking still, fighting, and yet laughing at the fierce absurdity of it all, we cross the street, pass the (long empty) fountain, and finally, finally, step- or collapse- through the restaurant doors.

Shaking shoulders, brushing our arms, stamping our feet, we will the cold away from us. Inside moments longer, we pull coats off, slip scarves into pockets, stuff them down sleeves. Catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror, I laugh to see my head covered in ice; snow that had melted ever so slightly, frozen again atop my head.

We unwind and unwrap and settle in, moving erratically around the little restaurant as our group slowly arrives. Coats in a pile, purses scattered across seats, we occupy twice as much space as necessary, but the little girls have opinions, have a plan, and when the food is ordered, arrives, they direct. You there, you’re sitting here, you can go on that side.

And we sit, eight there in the warmth, with the food before us and the ice melting off our boots, into puddles below us. And the biting chill outside rivals the glow of contentment inside, and we linger long there, over out pita, our fries, our falafel. And when we go outside once more, stomachs full, hair now thoroughly melted, the wind is not quite so bad, and the cold is not quite so bitter, and the friendship is all the richer.

~Natalia

The Eighth Birthday

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The youngest sister turns eight years old on December 20th, and amidst wrapping presents, creating the traditional Birthday Treasure Hunt, and the hours I spent hunched over a craft table with Glendy, meticulously gluing blue jewels to a pair of high heeled “Elsa shoes,” I leave you with a conversation from the kitchen, circa Wednesday night.

Mother: Natalie, put a plate under you, I just cleaned the counter.
Me: Come on, I’m just peeling a clementine.
Mother: Just grab a plate, Nat.
Larissa (yelling from living room): Rub some bacon on it!

Happy birthday to the little Larissa- I don’t know where we’d be without you!

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#62}

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Late night Chicago driving,
Moving slow, rolling around residential streets.
Counting Santas and watching
White lights flicker
Along towering houses.
They wore their jams;
Fleece footies and penguin nightgown,
Slipped right into bed when we got home.

~Natalia

Life Right Now {#60}

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Curious

Patient

Thoughtful.

Watching the big girls dance

While her own sister

Races, stretches, moves

In the studio next door.

~Natalia

Dock Start

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There was a time,

August morning,

Parents away.

We crossed the winding asphalt road,

Descended miniature switchbacks

In the dirt,

To the dock.

And they wore pink swimsuits,

Grabbed their life jackets,

Tossed haphazardly on the hot wood.

And I said yes to their bold request,

Then sat in the bow of the docked boat,

Watching them jump,

Swim,

Climb,

Repeat.

~Natalia

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