Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
A passage from the chapter called "Diamondheart" jumped out at me, in which Lamott writes about her son, Sam:
"I can see myself so clearly in him, many of my worst traits, some of my goodness. I can also still see many of Sam's ages in him: New parents always grieve as their babies get bigger, because they cannot imagine the child will ever be so heartbreakingly cute and needy again. But Sam is a swirl of every age he's ever been, and all the new ones, like cotton candy, like the Milky Way."
When I heard that, I realized that the same is true of Schuyler, and no doubt of every other kid as well. When I look at her, I can see the baby she was, back when she was fat as a slug and covered with strange black hair, like a baby Wookiee. I can see her as a stumbling toddler, her body already beginning to lengthen, her transition from baby to girl beginning, and yet with those fat cheeks remaining. When I look at Schuyler, who has become a rambunctious, leggy tornado of a girl, I can see the baby whom I wore against my chest shortly after moving to Connecticut, shielding her impossibly tiny body from the bitter cold blowing in from Long Island Sound. She remains all those Schuylers to me. She is still the Chubbin.
Some days, some moments even, I can also see into the future. I can see, like the ghost images in a photograph in which the subject is moving too fast for the shutter speed, the shadow of a pretty teenager who speaks like a robot but still makes that face at boys and causes them, and me, heartbreak and despair. When we're out these days, I sometimes see teenaged girls who are embarrassed by their fathers, and others who still cling to them unashamedly, and I suspect that Schuyler will be a little of both. I can see her a decade from now, still dressing against the norms of the North Dallas elite girls and yet maintaining her alien cred, the oddball stunner who carries her robotic voice in a stylish bag and doesn't wait to be told how to be cool.
Sometimes I can even see Schuyler the young woman, the one who'll have a chance to go to college or go out into the world and make a place for herself on her own terms. In my most selfish dreams, Schuyler the young woman will be a writer, and she'll pick up the thread of chronicling her amazing and unpredictable life after I am no longer around to contribute.
I can't predict what Schuyler's life will be like. I can't even begin. But sometimes she'll look into me with those eyes, the eyes of a child and the eyes of a being not entirely of this world, forever a child and yet wise beyond her years already. When she does, I can see the person she'll grow up to be, the wild and broken and astonishing and perfect woman she was born to become. Schuyler looks more and more like her mother as she grows older, but I see so much of myself in those eyes, and in that crooked smile she flashes right before she does something that causes everyone in the room to hurriedly say, "No! Nonononononononono! Give me that! Holy crap..."
When people ask what I do, I tell them I'm a writer because I can truthfully say it without air quotes now, and I like that. But the truth is, I am Schuyler's father, her launchpad, and when I reach the end of my days, I hope she'll be standing there beside me to send me on my way.
She won't have words, but then, she and I so rarely need them.