I've been living with someone who for the past seven years has never failed to enthrall me in some way on most days. The moments preceding our initial meeting were most painful to say the least, but they were all worth it. The memory that stands out the most during that first face-to-face encounter is the sight of a nose perched so elegantly, so nobly, in the middle of a face that looked so enchanting even while in deep slumber.
She hasn't lost any of that early elegance, my first daughter hasn't. Now, at the dawn of her eighth year of life, it's become even more pronounced. That isn't to say she doesn't do the things that little girls are wont to do: indulge in make-believe, play with make-up, go a round or two on board games. She likes toys, but she isn't the Barbie type of girl. No, she'd much rather indulge in laughing sprees and roller blade trips with her siblings and cousins.
And yet, even when she's rough-housing and ends up sweaty and exhausted, there's still that air about her, an aura that seems to suggest -- never shout -- "I'm still cool." Which is even more impressive. It's all the more remarkable because she doesn't do anything to draw attention to it; it's just as much a natural part of her as her nose is. It's part of her normal everyday attire, one that she wears everywhere without even thinking about it. And people notice it and have talked to me about it: the way she tucks her hair behind her ear, the easy pose she adopts when she's just sitting, the way she tilts her head just so when listening, even the way she cries. She carries her elegance with her everywhere she goes and in everything she does; she has more poise in the tip of her nose than I have in my whole body. She and I are so different, that's for sure. She takes more after her dad. It's only when she's asleep, plush toy deep in her embrace, that this air of elegance seems to fade away. In her moments of dreaming, she's just a sweet little girl who's getting the rest she needs.
But even her sweetness is elegant. She doesn't indulge in as much kissing and hugging as her siblings. Oh no, she prefers to show her affection in more subtle ways. Like: writing and illustrating short love letters and leaving them in unexpected places; wrapping something and putting it in a place where she knows I'll find it sooner or later. (These "presents" are usually stuff lying around the house: a book I hadn't read for a long time, or a candy bar, or a seashell, or her own costume jewelry. These winsome gifts always bear the inscription "I love you, Mama."
I love you, too, my little princess. Happy birthday.