Merry-go-round (#312)

Swoop and spin and whirl and float and fly, and around again: That’s Charlie on one of his favorite rides, the ferris wheel, or the Sea Dragon, or the Paraglider (a ferris wheel that tilts on a moving axis), or the swings.
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New Jersey having four seasons, rides are a warm-weather affair; New Jersey having the Jersey shore with the seemingly endless boardwalk at Wildwood, rides are associated in Charlie’s mind and body with the total sensory experience of the ocean and the beach–the sun, sand, salt, spray and the strong pull of the current.

From watching Charlie for almost nine years, it is the motion that draws Charlie to the ferris wheel and the ocean, to rides in the black and green and white cars and on his bike, to running circuits up and down our living room. While feeling Charlie growing inside of me for nine months, I frequently saw my entire stomach arch into a mountain–a parabola–and then slowly deflate. Even in utero, Charlie was back-arching for comfort, moving as he might. (He also got the hiccups a lot, sometimes while I was teaching Latin to middle schoolers.)

This afternoon, Charlie and I twice drove past a certain local amusement park. We had seen it open on the weekends; it will be open regularly on the weekdays after Memorial Day.

Today, the swings simply hung and the Paraglider was parked on the ground.

As has become (gratifyingly) usual, Charlie had one fine day at school and then talked and manded and played at his verbal behavior session. He asked to see more videos than usual and kept trying to sneak into a storage room to get a video–"Dance with the Teletubbies"–that he used to have. "Barney ferris wheel! Barney ferris wheel book!" Charlie smiled at me in the shower as he recalled how he used to sit at the kitchen table with his then-favorite items: a stuffed Barney, a wrinkled photograph of a ferris wheel, and Goodnight Moon. "Yeah, we used to have those," I said, rinsing out his hair.

Charlie asked to see "ferris wheel Blake" on the computer. For a long time, he has insisted on putting a photo of three-year-old him, Jim standing behind, riding the merry-go-round on top of the computer keyboard: Because Charlie remembers the merry-go-round being placed there relative to the ferris wheel in the Mall of America?. The photo being there has made it impossible to use the keyboard for its actual use of typing. Tonight, within five minutes of clicking on the photo and looking at it, I heard that knock and ran to Charlie who went right to lie on the couch and cry and moan. I sat at his (kicking) feet, got up, and sat back down with the merry-go-round photo.

"You know, we’ve had that photo on the keyboard for a long time. Maybe we can practice moving it to other places around the house?" Charlie took the photo and looked at it. "You know rides are a summer thing. And rides are fun but, well, they’re lots of fun and they end."

Charlie fell asleep clutching the merry-go-round in his left hand.

I dusted off the keyboard.

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