I will admit I am an overuser of “best ___ ever.” If I eat a damn good cookie I will shout, “best cookie ever!” If I spark an idea it is “the best idea ever!” So yes, there have been quite a few “best days ever!” But what is wrong with that? I’d rather proclaim best evers at whatever whim than to go without ever saying any.
So the other day happened to be one of the many best days ever. Laura met me at Peet’s. I took her my drafty little books – seriously, imagine cut up pages from regular paper clipped together to look like a book. Oh, by the way, this is recycled paper that I was writing on. I swear Laura probably bit back laughter or a proclamation such as, “Are you kidding me? Really? This is how you’re drafting your books? (slaps her knee and has a fit of giggles so hard that tears come out of her eyes)”
But no, she didn’t do any of that, instead she asked me to read them to her. In Spanish. And then translate. So I did. And magic happened. Laura took my drafty pencil book on recycled paper and practically transformed it into a real children’s book.
At one point I was so mesmerized by what she was doing that I stared. And I found myself doing what I always do with picture books that I love. I gazed at the tomato and chili hanging out in the hot tub. I could hear their sighs of relief as they settled into the bubbling warmth of the tub. I believed them into life and imagined they had a conversation about how good it felt to be on vacation and to be in the simmering waters of the hot tub.
Then when Laura drew the pestle (hope I have that right, it is the thing that you use to grind something on mortar – ok I quit, do your best to figure out what this English Learner is trying to say…) circling about and grinding the garlic, I was reminded of myself. As a child I would have spent hours just staring at that page; imagining how the pestle would go around and around and wondering how the garlic felt as it was ground into smears on the mortar. That is the page that I would return to over and over simply because I would want to reimagine the scene and make sense of it. How did the pestle feel grinding away at the garlic and dissolving it? Did the garlic really enjoy that pestle? About how much work did it take to mash up the garlic? Did the garlic know what was coming to it once it was thrown on the mortar?
The icing came when Laura drew another copy. She gave it to me and said, “something to keep you writing.” I couldn’t believe it! I had a copy! Smart as I am, I had her date it and sign it. I haven’t stopped staring at the drawings since. They feel real to me. They feel like a real picture book (even though there are only 4 images). And what makes it so incredible is that the accompanying text is in Spanish. A beautiful, precious, silly, fun story told in Spanish.
Best Day Ever!