On the night Isaac David was born, my grandmother and Carol picked me up at the San Francisco airport. After three days of pre-term labor, Emilee was finally ready to go to the Alta Bates birthing center. Waiting for the signal, we lounged, eating cherries in the California gloaming. She left, streaming tears, with her husband and our mother, while the rest of us kept waiting to join them later.
We were seven left behind: Chad, my oldest cousin, in ripped cutoffs massacred by seven different colors of paint, with just a few silver hairs laced into his surfer mane, Breeanne, Madeline, Madeline's friend Julie, my grandmother Phyllis, and her long-time travelling companion and general sidekick, Carol. Carol and Nanny went to go sleep at the condo. Chad, Bree, Madeline, and Julie went to go avail themselves of the nearest Coldstone Creamery, as the culimination of three days of anxious waiting and eating. I fell asleep on the couch, fully clothed, with a copy of Ivanhoe.
The call came just after midnight, or 3 am for me. We struggled to figure out who would drive. No one seemed to have and gas in their car. Madeline did, but she couldn't find her keys. In the end, flustered and fearing to miss a moment, Julie whipped us around the 580 curves, through the Caldecott Tunnel, into the seedy Berkeley blackness. We tried to park at Whole Foods, but we were afraid to be towed, so we parked in the garage across the street from the hospital. As soon as we drove past the attendant, Julie lost the parking stub to the inside of her air conditioning system, so Madeline hopped out for some pained negotiations to get us another ticket.
All of the frenzy, of course, ended with more waiting in the stale hospital waiting room. But at 12:41, we heard, my sister delivered Isaac David Morehead, all 8 adorable, cone-headed lbs, 6 oz of him, standing at the foot of the bed with the help of a midwife. When the bedlam had been cleaned up, we were allowed to go in and visit them one at a time.
The sacred intimacy of that room was like walking into the Westminster Church in Minneapolis, thick with the aura of love-hallowed pain swallowed up in this quiet joy. At Emily's side, Justin looked three years younger than when I last saw him, boyish and awed. He was there for the whole thing. And Isaac, sweet Isaac, fitted to perfectly to his mother's arms, with his fuzzy forehead peaking out from his swaddling, begging to be kissed.
We left them to the rest after the travail of delivery, back out of the garage where the parking attendant had fall sound asleep and we had to bang on the partition to wake him up. Madeline and Julie, quite thoroughly hippies, listened to Peter, Paul, and Mary on the stereo, crooning about where all the flowers have gone, young girls have picked them every one. A young ivory moon, slung low in the early morning sky, marked the road homeward, as we went up and down that hills that still mark my journeys' end.
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