In the beginning
I was crawling through grass. The grass was sharp and hurt my feet and hands. There was another one there too, one that was not much bigger than me and was crashing around. But I continued to crawl. Then just as gravity was about to keep me from holding my head up, I remember seeing her for the first time coming toward me.
In later years it reminded me of angels coming to comfort the weary travelers who had come searching for God. She appeared luminous, not completely solid, full of purpose and understanding. With my baby's eyes I watched her, vaguely sensing that I was a part of her and that I was here, she had brought me, and I had to learn what I was doing here.
I arrived on July 15, 1945, into a paradise of love and beauty filled with characters out of a classic romance novel - with my mother at the very center of it all. It was slowly that I came to know myself through the love I bore for the beautiful lady who held me in her arms as we rode home everyday, and on Saturday mornings when she didn't have to go to work, and I would lie next to her listening to her heart beat and my own until the strange rhythms they made together carried me off, always to the same dream about a world that used to be all my own where I could fly, and where time stood still.
Sometimes when I awoke it would be afternoon. She would already be at her dressing table getting ready to go out that evening with my father, and I got to stay, playing with a spare brush or some old slippers she would give me. But my favorite thing was a small wind-up wooden music box with a glass top you could see through. All the little gears and wheels whirred around inside there.
A brass cylinder played it with tiny pin tips sticking up all over. As the cylinder slowly revolved, it's pin tips plucked eighty or so perfectly tuned teeth of a small steel comb in such a way as to produce minute orchestral arrangements. There were four songs it could play (my favorite was "The Man in the Moon") by moving the cylinder incrementally in one direction or another after each song, and thereby creating a new pattern of contact between the pins and the comb's teeth. I know now that this was the beginning of my love for music, which at the time was truly magical to me. I was fixated by this music box, listening for hours and watching the way the vibration of those little steel slivers could fill me with feelings of such consuming wonder
Of course my mother was listening too, while she did her hair and put on her makeup. I don't know if it was really because it kept me occupied and out of trouble, but no matter how many times I played that music box, she never made me stop. It became a symbol of the love we both had for those times spent together on Saturday afternoons.
She gave the music box to me a few years ago, and whenever I play it, I can literally smell the rose scented perfume she used to wear back then, and see her at that dressing table, in the peach dressing gown made of silk with different colored bubbles on it. It was her favorite at the time. To this day, in spite of all the fabulous things she wore over the years, I will always remember her looking her most beautiful in that peach-colored dressing gown, listening to the little wooden music box with me.