“You know… You don’t have to come if you don’t want to… It’s only going to be a bunch of babies… It’s a long way.” Joe said to me a few days ago when we finalized me visiting him. It’s his son’s first birthday.
“Nah.. I’ll be there. It’s a good time for a trip… Besides I’d like to be there.” Gulnara had asked me to take photos at the birthday party. I already knew I’d be there I even told them so when they asked. What was I going to do here anyway think about being there even if it is a baby party.
There was some sticker shock after I purchased the tickets. It didn’t dawn on me why until I got onto the train at 0815. It was full. All of the reserved seats were spoken for so that left the unreserved carriage open for seating. Hence the cost. I’m learning a lot more about the cost of long distance travel here. Essentially it’s book in advance. Two days isn’t enough apparently.
My morning bus ride started at seven in the morning. There was a really loud woman on the bus chatting at the driver. Her booming voice and laugh was piercing my ears. There was a woman fuming silently on a seat beside me. The lady kept talking and talking recounting her gripes and life story. He was too polite to close the door. As we finally drove out of the hospital grounds he pointed at the blue car that lost control sometime last night.
The train was full as I walked to the platform carrying my coffee and breakfast from the coffee shop. I came just in time to snag a seat. This train has wifi and it is much better than what I get at the residence. If only I had what is on this train at my residence… But I digress. The ride was quite productive as I made my way to London. Distance traversed as my mind thought about these last few weeks. There is a bit of bewilderment still being shaken off from August. New this and that and an improved perspective with respect to the direction that my life moving towards. When something is far away in time it is kind of abstract, but as the time approaches all that abstractness has to be put into reality. I cast my lure by applying for a job the night before. I thought about the implications of this. It would be nice if they bite.
This party that I’m going to won’t be in the garden. A shame really that the rain decided to fall this Saturday. The weather has been really nice all week. When I got to London it was really coming down. I had to make a pit stop on the way to Joe’s. I got my directions mixed up as it didn’t work like clockwork as it did all those other times. There was a kink in the chain that recently developed. The geography has to change and there are new developments in the oven. My pit stops will come to an end soon. THis change in geography kind of ended up working in my favor. I was along the train route that I needed to be. It just so happened that the rain fell the hardest during this time.
When I finally got to Joe’s no guests had arrived yet although his dad was visiting him from Australia. One of Gulnara’s friends from work stopped in for a quick visit. The birthday boy seemingly oblivious to the occasion. He is mostly crawling but has begun to stand and has taken some assisted steps. A baby’s curiosity has not been tempered by tough experience yet so everything is interesting. All of the senses including taste are involved in testing the environment for signs of food. Some items hold fascination until it realises that it won’t figure it out by swinging it around. Off to the next thing a meal or a sudden change of mood. Maybe the nappies are soiled and need to be changed. A baby’s life can be great. Joe was outside playing with his other son. They grow up so fast these kids.
There was a bit of catch up and a bit of banter but soon the babies started to arrive.What is neat about this group is the fact that they were all born within a month of each other. There is Daniel and four girls as well as one more that didn’t attend todays festivities. Two of those girls are twins. Those were the first to arrive. Their exhausted father barring into the door one kid in each arm. Twins even at that age display some sort of distinction between them. One of the girls wouldn’t go without being near her dad without beginning to cry. Each little baby that came had their own way of expressing themselves and responding to attention. There was one loud girl who would scream at different points. Babies cry to get attention and then stop fairly quickly. The parent’s called it a “fake” cry. A cry that elicits attention by making it seem like the worst tragedy in the world has just happened.
Everyone sat in a circle having something to drink and watching the kids play in the middle. At that tender age of one it is all cuteness. From the sounds and the disproportionately large eyes to their movements and facial expressions when you can see those mental wheels beginning to turn and figure things out. Noises, flashing lights, and textures kept the kids occupied. There was crying and laughter, drama and intrigue as the kids played together. They are still simple humans in need of developing their body and mind into a cohesive coordinated whole. They take a look at you and smile but sometimes it is a blank look as they try to figure something out inside. All of the moms have voiced their joy at being back at work. Multisyllabic words have replaced their cooing vocabulary meant to elicit joy in a baby. The dads also spoke of their priorities changing as they figured ways to finance their lifestyles. Superfluous activities have been axed from the budget as they all take joy in coparenting with their partners. Life in this city calls for creative solutions and these solutions have to be adapted into their lives.
Babies bring a special kind of joy into people’s lives. There is a lot of effort that goes into raising them and there is a cost that is associated with them but now as an adult I can see how this effort becomes transformed through the years incubated in that tiny body to produce an adult, a citizen of the world. The little birthday boy will not remember this day in his life but his parents may recall that day sometime in the future as a good day, a first birthday. The cake was bigger than the child and his brother blew the candle out for him. Cake was passed around like plates in a soup kitchen. Everyone eagerly chewed the plate of cake down their esophagus into their stomachs. Those little plates of snacks were slowly dwindling down as well.
These little birthday parties are run like a tight operation between certain times of the day on weekends. Gulnara says that each baby has their own sleeping schedule that has developed in conjunction with their parents. The birthday boy was asleep having his afternoon nap and got up sometime an hour into his party with the grumps. He needed to eat and wake up. Check out his friends all joyfully playing with his toys. Periodic waves of cries disturbed the occasional moments of silence when everyone was at a pause in their conversations.
An occasion such as this calls for a group photo. At the end of the party as all the parents were ready to leave I suggested the idea again. All of the parents were skeptical that it could be done. These are babies after all they don’t understand reason or language and they certainly don’t follow instruction. It would be a miracle to get anything really. “Nothing ventured nothing gained” is a motto that seems appropriate in this situation. As if on cue all the babies were arranged haphazardly on the couch as the parents stood around me trying to have all the babies look in the camera’s direction at the same time. Out of the hundred or so photos only one or two might be judged as decent. Babies apparently don’t like to stay still on one spot.
Joe allowed me to stay there overnight. This is a good convenience even though it will be occupying the couch. No I need to leave in the morning in order to make it back to Hull in decent time. The train takes a scheduled two and a half hours. As I am returning the journey is an hour behind due to “overrunning engineering works” it’s a bad day for that. As we relaxed into the night everyone left to sleep while I got hooked on watching the second season of Narcos I show I binge watched sometime last year in Vancouver. I stayed up too late watching it and didn’t end up getting good sleep.
It was a good visit a nice birthday. It gave me a chance to observe babies and see what they are like. I know they cry, defecate, eat, sleep, and laugh. Babies bond the people that contribute to the baby forming a union that at least is the result of one instance of genetic donation in order to produce a new human. I could be using gooey words to describe the process and the feelings that babies elicit but I won’t. It is enough to appreciate by observing these little humans in order to foster dreams of my own.