As I’ve men­tioned ear­lier, I’m work­ing toward licen­sure to fost/​adopt par­ent — I want to be a dad. Things seem to be going well with the new agency. During the home­s­tudy inter­view my con­tact kept look­ing though the paper­work for any­thing amiss, at me to see if I was furtively hid­ing dis­mem­bered body parts or what­ever in ran­dom clos­ets, and even­tu­ally adopted a kind of “what the hell” expres­sion — as in “why did they boot you from the game at the five yard line?”

Not sure, and not really rel­e­vant; it’s just back­ground. A few months back, hang­ing out at the locally owned café, I made the acquain­tance of the week­end dish­washer, a teen kid with whom I con­nected, entirely and totally, after about nine to eleven sec­onds of con­ver­sa­tion. The inter­dig­i­ta­tion was strong and a lit­tle eerie in its depth.* He’s how I hope my future son will be, very bright, very sweet and just a good kid all around.

Where he works there isn’t a pair of dish­gloves that fit him — the set there is too small. So when he takes them off at the end of his shift, they wrin­kle and fold back on them­selves, and end up in a dis­or­dered heap on the rack, in a way cer­tain to irri­tate the store’s owner. He can’t help it, and being a teen is a bit scat­ter­brained, so he tends to for­get the state of the gloves.

A few weeks back I was in the café, and there were the gloves, disheveled and hope­less in a rub­bery heap where he’d left them the night before. I smiled to see them, think­ing of the bun­dle of energy and life that had touched them last, think­ing of noth­ing else in par­tic­u­lar, and then real­ized that what I was see­ing was a deep les­son — that a rum­pled pair of gloves would be mean­ing­less, anony­mous, just a bit of noise to most observers; but they meant some­thing to me — they were a cipher whose code I could read — and that the world is actu­ally full of this noise.

Everywhere we look there are lit­tle per­sonal traces of iden­tity, lit­tle nudges of the set and set­ting we can’t see, but which are bea­cons in the eyes of those who can see them, signs of the pres­ence of a friend, a mind, a beloved one whose shape and energy in the world has made the world a bet­ter place. A known place, a place full of anony­mous graf­fiti that announces each indi­vid­ual real­ity. Monuments as gen­uine as an edi­fice, as ephemeral as a heartbeat.

All around us, if we could but decode the mes­sage, is a sig­nal of love, a con­stant low key real­ity that allows our sep­a­rate per­cep­tions to inter­con­nect and enmesh in unex­pected, hid­den ways. Love. Love. This world is alight, is glow­ing, is radi­ant with hid­den love.

And then I real­ized that my boy, my future son, was leav­ing these same marks in the world right now, that I might have already walked past them, seen them but not remarked on them, observed but not known that the love of my life, the future unknown-​​as-​​yet trea­sure of my heart had left bits of him­self for me to see, like a sock tossed casu­ally on the sofa cush­ion or a smear of mud on the soap bar in the down­stairs bath­room — and that every one of us, every life that we are, every per­son we know, was once this sweet lit­tle bub­ble of tears and smiles, laugh­ter and anger, joy and fear we all are, and the very real per­sonal child we used to be is still there; chil­dren don’t grow up, don’t lose their sweet­ness. Their par­ents just lose the illu­sion of what they wanted their kinder­garten­ers to be when they’re in their thirties.

And you know, that’s not the fault of the children.

It’s strange, you know, to love a pair of gloves so much.

====

* I have this way with kids, espe­cially the ones who are sup­posed to be trou­ble. It’s spooky to watch. It’s spooky for me, and I’ve had it all my life; it’s spooky for the par­ents — and it’s even spooky for the kids. I’ve seen a few of them actively with­draw, won­der­ing why the hell they like me so much, so fast. Talking to my mom about it a few months ago, I called myself a kid whis­perer as a joke, but she said, “You are.”

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