It was raining. My middle sister was sitting next to me in the backseat. My mom was alone in the front, driving through Fairfax.
I was four years old. I watched the rain create streams of water across the front window shield. It would be a few years before the long drought. I looked out the side window, the creeks in Marin County were overflowing, flooding the small bridge we crossed over to reach the grocery store and bank a short distance from our apartment in the hills.
My best friend was a tortoise named "Tommy", my mom bought me at the pet store. I loved Tommy. I fed him lettuce on the porch overlooking the hillside. I was fascinated by the way he stretched his neck out, reaching for a piece of iceberg I held in my tiny hand, gently taking it and chomping it slowly until it disappeared. He was fairly large, encased in a hard beautiful shell.
In the car as we drove through the storm, the radio cackled, it was 1969 and Joni Mitchell's voice and guitar played:
Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
I leaned back and closed my eyes, the car carrying us home, the windshield wipers squeaking across the window:
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way.
My mom looked back at my sister and me for a short moment and while Joni Mitchell's voice spoke to the angels, she told us we had a baby sister who was on her way.
I remember being so excited and feeling a love so big, I couldn't contain it.
Six month later, my little sister was born.