My favorite moment of our first big family trip was when the wheels retracted into the guts of the airplane and Henry pointed out the window, squealing through sucks on his pacifier at the city lights glittering gold beneath us as we peeled through a black sky.
My favorite moment was the very next one when his head knocked out in a deep sleep against the soft cushion of his car seat.
My favorite moment was the feel of his tummy rising and falling beneath my hand as he slept throughout the next four hours in flight.
My favorite moment was the one in which I kept looking over at him sleeping there beside me on an airplane in the sky, adoring every angle of my view: the curling black eyelashes, purple pout, creamy cheeks, the dimple nestled in the soft skin of his elbow where his arm bent to latch around mine.
My favorite moment was watching powdered sugar smear across his face and up his nose the next morning at the soccer field as he chomped down a donette. It was pushing him on the big swing at the park. It was sharing my strawberry ice cream with him at the Farmers Market, his mouth opening and panting in anticipation of each smash of cold pink cream between his sore gums. It was receiving the photo of him dozing that the babysitter sent while we were at a wedding that night. It was talking for hours then dancing the foxtrot and Merengue with his dad at the wedding, reconnecting with romance and the magical source of love from whence our boy was born.
My favorite moment was the next day at the beach as Henry’s mouth dropped in an “oh” of delight as he charged into every crest of white foam that ripped around his tiny calves. It was the wonder and joy in his eyes and smile, and the gleeful laugh I imagined behind them, muffled by the sound of water rushing against itself and against the sandy shore. It was his fearlessness chasing waves and roaring with enjoyment at the feel of surf and wet sand sliding beneath his bare feet and between his slick toes. My favorite moment was watching the appetites for dinner and for sleep that this day of natural pleasure, of surf and sun, worked up in him.
The best moment, though, was when we pulled up in front of our house after our long flight home during which a runny nose and sore eyes from an exhausting day at Disneyland plagued our normally happy boy, and he pointed to our house and squeaked in recognition, then I held his hands as we walked in the front door and he squeaked some more at his toys and at our carpet, then he saw our dog and yipped the longest peal of joy while flash-dancing his two feet up and down in place against the floor. It was Henry taking off toward Lola before stopping suddenly mid-stride and mid-room to unleash another joyful yip at the sight of his dog. The best moment of all was watching him let go of me then, drop to his knees and sprint-crawl toward Lola, then to his baseball to give it a toss, then all the way to the kitchen to his high chair, which he normally hates, where he pulled himself up and embraced the leg as if he’d never missed anything more. It was him dropping back down and crawling beneath the kitchen table, to the cabinets, which he opened first one then another, then back to the dog as she barked and jumped over and around him, equally excited, equally relieved that everything and everyone was back in its place, as it should be.
It was seeing that my son was as happy as me to finally be home.
The best thing of all, really, was watching the way everything, even coming home, was new to Henry, and having my world transformed into the source of endless wonder that it is when experienced through the eyes and beneath the toes of a new, unblemished human being.