Mapping Memories

Light cups Oscar’s cheek like a warm hand, making the blue of his eyes flash out like a lighthouse, almost blinding. He is suspended for a moment, catching his breath, held up by his daddy’s long, strong arms in the crisp February air. For a moment, time seems to pause in happy sympathy, the whole world holding its breath, trying not to burst out laughing at some shared irreverence. Then a breeze stirs the branches of the tree, making the light dance across his face, and down he drops in Damon’s arms, swinging and giddy, giggling and snorting. I am a wealthy woman.

These are some of my favorite moments, our family walking together to and from our favorite local bakery in Church Hill. These moments will forever color these streets in my memory, the light casting the moment forever in my mind.

Damon and Oscar, WPA Bakery in Church Hill

Damon and Oscar, WPA Bakery in Church Hill

When we first started dating, Damon lived here in Church Hill, so these bumpy brick sidewalks and old townhomes already hold a bit of nostalgia for me. When you love someone, you start to build a new geography together, places and streets stitching together memories and feelings and conversations that you’ve shared, roads traced out like laugh lines. Here’s where we parked when we were moving him into his new apartment, where I first met Damon’s amazing parents. Here’s where we went on our first date, only to realize the restaurant was closed, walking all the way back; and here’s where Damon first kissed me, cheeky as get-out and eyes full of twinkling humor. Here’s where we gathered blackberries and wild onions together, and mulberries shaken from the tree.

Once we learned Oscar would be joining us in the world, we pulled out all those maps and immediately started plotting where we would take him, what we would share with him. Wherever we go, these plans pepper our conversation—the best condiment in the world. With every adventure, we stick another pin in the map for our family, preserving our moments together as a sort of historical landmark tour.

Anna and Oscar, WPA Bakery

Anna and Oscar, WPA Bakery

Damon spent all last week away on business, and we were so happy to have him home again, I immediately piped up that I would love to go to the bakery together before the work week rolled back around. It’s our family place. Into the car we piled, geek-bopping to ‘80s music, laughing. Once there, we hang Oscar’s jacket on the child-sized coat tree, order a couple muffins (their GF muffins are incredible), some coffee and cocoa (also unrivaled, with homemade marshmallows!).   We take turns holding Oscar and letting him take bites of our muffins, savoring his emphatic “mmmmmm” and his eager leaning into each bite, and I save the last bit of my hot cocoa for Oscar to sip. He seems to want to crawl into the cup, finally coming up for air with a chocolatey mustache painted across his lip.

This isn’t health food—it’s nourishment. When I’m sitting at work this week, I will be remembering these muffins, the smear of cocoa on Oscar’s lip, the easy laughter sparkling in my husband’s eyes. I’ll remember the way the sunlight cupped Oscar’s face, and how much in love I am with our family. We have so much to do, so much work and chores and preparation and busy-ness.

But there will always be time to put one more pin in the map. Let the rest wait. Here we are: every place we’ve ever been. Together.

Leave a comment


  1. Debbie

     /  March 13, 2013

    I too remember helping move Damon into his new apartment in Church Hill, and getting to meet you for the first time. Our first hello came with a big hug, which I’ve never forgotten. We fell in love with you immediately, and have been rewarded by the joining of our families. You are not only loved, you are cherished, Daughter of my Heart!

  2. Kathy Sarosdy

     /  March 14, 2013

    This is a beautiful piece of writing about a beautiful family and life.


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