Think: mother. Think: father. Think brother; think sister. Something will come up, or things. But what I’m discovering is that memories seem to reside in layers: write the first layer down, and the next layer arises. Right now there’s nothing in my head but a headache and some feelings that I wish I could carve out and throw away. But I think of my daughter, Maud, and a picture of her—her recent self, smiling—arises.
The fact is, though, that I could write volumes of memories about Maud: I could start with a day, close to thirty years ago, when her dad and I, just three months into our relationship, sat on a wall in Bend, Oregon, on a summer day, and watched somebody else’s little girl run across a lawn. She had crazy curly hair, and she was a spaz. Andrew said to me, something like, “Our daughter could be like that. We could call her ‘Daffy.'” That was the beginning of Maud, who, when she was born, was anything but daffy. She was too smart, right from the start, to be daffy. She was too sensitive, too clear, and too penetrating.
“Mama,” she said to me one day, playing on the floor of her bedroom when she was about five. I was sitting on her bed. “Is ‘idiot’ a bad word?”
Well, I said, or something like it. It’s not exactly a bad word, but it’s not anything you want to call anyone.
She thought about that. She went back to playing.
A couple of minutes later she said, “Mama?”
I said, “Yah.”
And she said, “Is ‘fucking asshole’ a bad word.”
It was kind of like Scout, when he’d stuff a pair of dirty socks in his mouth and walk by me slowly, looking at me out of the whites of his eyes. It was a joke, those dirty socks in his mouth, and a funny challenge. It said, Come and get me.