we left the mountains at sunrise, a few quiet days after flying back from a photoshoot in melbourne. we drove through fog and then took a busy train, carrying our luggage and wearing a sleepy baby. i breastfed her as the train carried us into the city and she dozed against my chest. by midday we had arrived at the international airport.
wherever we go with alba we make friends. instead of being treated with indifference by the strangers we pass, they smile kindly and make sweet comments. ‘your daughter is so beautiful’ and ‘oh what a calm baby’. people give their seats and their time, as alba grins widely at the new faces (who are often making the funniest of expressions). she brings out the good in people and it makes me feel more connected to the world around us.
because we were flying business class we spent all our time before the flight in the lounge, alba playing with a ribbon we’d packed as a toy and squealing delightedly. she is happiest when we are moving, when she is exploring new places. we suspect she has gypsy blood like us.
the flight was 14 hours long. when alba was a newborn i dreaded the day i would take her on her first long haul flight. instead, it was like a dream. at night the roof lit up with thousands of tiny stars and she lay back against me, mesmerised. she never cried. when she slept against her papa’s chest i sat at the bar (how strange to be in a bar in midair) and talked to other passengers about mamahood. something that has my heart.
we touched down in LAX, collected our bags and were met by a 7 foot tall driver in a suit. it was a long drive and alba was tired and upset so i breastfed her in her carseat. not comfortably, but it put her fast to sleep. palm trees lined the sky.
we got out at a beautiful castle-like house in the hills, my friend zelda’s home. from our bedroom balcony we pointed out the hollywood sign to alba. zelda was away on a film shoot so we were alone that night. laying on big lounges on the balcony watching the city bathe in a smoky sunset and giving alba first tastes of organic cherries.
we went for a walk the next morning during a heat wave. we walked until our feet ached and our faces flushed. an hour to melrose avenue and an hour walking along it. mostly passing car yards, abandoned store fronts and the occasional 99 cent store.
in a vintage store we found a little collared floral dress from the 1970’s for alba, in a bookstore we found some beautifully illustrated picture books. we climbed aboard a crowded bus and alba made some more strangers fall for her. we passed by as a film was being shot in the street .
sometimes i could feel eyes burning on us, people commenting on how young i was to have a baby. i just smiled. i know i’m the best mama for alba, regardless of the number of days i have been alive. it is the way i have lived those days that truly matters.
zelda came home from filming. because we aren’t religious we decided to forgo godmother and godfather. instead alba has a sunmother, moonmother and earthmother. three women who we felt would be influential in her life. zelda is alba’s sunmother. she drew alba up into her arms and kissed her head and alba was calm like she had always known her.
we can’t help but take too many pictures of alba. how lucky that we of all people have ended up with such a photogenic child. her two bottom teeth have sprouted through her gums like tiny pearls and late last night she began to crawl backwards. she laughs all the time now and it fills up all the empty spaces in the room.
we have spent our days here meeting like-minded people from the internet, eating ridiculously well at raw & vegan cafes, reading and wandering around the hills of hollywood with alba on our back. but we must go sooner than we’d like, as i have a court case in townsville i am a witness for and afterwards a roadtrip down the east coast of australia. i know we will return soon.
i will turn twenty in the air. although i’m not even sure i will turn twenty at all since we leave on the eve of my birthday and land the day after. maybe this way i can delay the onset of adulthood by another year.
and if not, it’s a meaningful way to end my teenage years, on the road.
(the biggest of thank yous to marsha, zelda’s mama, who so kindly flew our family there & back and to zelda for the endless love and letting us stay in her castle- you are family to us).
many pictures taken by my love, mexico.