She asks, “Am I bothering you?” No one ever asks me that and it throws me for a minute but I smile and say, “No, of course not.” Her movements are slow, always a somber expression, unless she is teasing me, and I notice her eyes never stop observing the world. I wonder about her thoughts, she has a unique perspective, and because I’m such a curious person I want to know how her brain works. It is a mystery not to be solved, because I will never know the thoughts of another, but it calms me if I can predict some of her actions.
She appears to have no agenda, lives fully in the moment, and without remorse her primary concern is the self. She is my hero and there is much I can learn from this humble witness. I brought my sweet niece up to the lake for a few days, we’re doing the annual birthday thing, and we’ve christened this event Mackenzie Day. It is supposed to be a special time with just me and the girl, but this year we included Dante, because we needed someone to do the heavy lifting.
I take non-stop photos of our event and turn it into a mini movie memory. I realized after the first Mackenzie Day that she had no recall of our celebration so the photo montage did the trick. We have a decade of Mackenzie Days behind us, all different, and all very much the same. Mackenzie turns twenty-two this year, and our activities will be simple, structured, and hopefully respect her routines. There is something comforting about the predictable rhythms of life and she forces me to recognize my own need for redundancy. She has a specific diet (which does not meet a single nutritional requirement), she naps in the afternoon, loves watching movies (she brought no less than 20 of her favorites), and rarely misses a day without talking to her boyfriend Ryan (a young man she met at a wedding a few years back). Her world might be small, those in her circle of obligation few, but this girl’s heart is wide open.
She woke early this morning but held back till 7:00am so I could sleep in. We landed in the lanai sipping chocolate milk and coffee, drinking in the views, and I granted her three wishes. She said, “Why only three?” I said, “I’m not a genie, three is my limit, take it or leave it.” She decides on waffles, Cheaper by the Dozen II (our second viewing), and a boat ride. Her obsession with spiders is concerning, they are part of the lake scenery, and she makes it her days work to point out each one. I’ve taken to naming them and pretending they are my pets. This makes her absolutely crazy but she has all the names memorized.
After morning waffles she said, “We could shop at one of those old stores you like.” She is referring to my obsession with antique stores, she wants me to be happy too, and I am touched by the obvious generosity. She also asked if we could stay an extra day so I know she is having fun. Her life is an open book and for me she offers a refreshing mien on what it means to be fully human. She could care less about appearance, decorum, or pompous goals and depending on her mood she can be both kind and ruthless. After stuffing ourselves with Belgium waffles I go to work on her hair, I know she is annoyed as I whip her curly mane into an adorable ponytail, so I ask, “Am I bothering you?” Her honesty is refreshing, “Yes, you are.”