“I Love You Guys So Much”
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Anniversaries mark time, but they are really about the intersection of two years—a celebration of the year you just finished, and a commitment to the next one. I had been thinking about how to write tomorrow’s anniversary post, but I realized this morning that this edition, which precedes the anniversary edition, is actually and officially the three hundred and sixty-fifth issue of The Daily Kina. In other words, today is the accomplishment, and tomorrow is the promise.
I didn’t set out to do this—I really was just trying to distract Kina on a Friday morning, because neither of us had anywhere to go. I drew the first edition of The Daily Kina on a piece of folded-up pink construction paper, using the same crayons I’d used to draw a fourteen-day quarantine calendar two weeks earlier. TDK was the first thing I’d drawn since I was allowed to leave my house, having recovered from a scary viral infection we didn’t know much about, with the stores still all locked up tight, knowing we’d all be holed up together for a while. We needed something to do.
In other words, I did this to pass the time. Time passed, and The Daily Kina noted its passage. Since the first day of our full recovery, it has documented an entire year of Kina’s life, of our life as a family, and of the world. We have covered Kina’s potty training, her discovery of various animated heroes, the vanishing and return of her friends, a long serial reimagining of the movie Paddington, the slow identification of a toy cash register, and all the triumphs and tragedies of the world at large and of the life of a child who—in the midst of it all—turned four.
I’ve gone through thirty-five boxes of Crayola Broad Point Washable Markers, six spiral-bound pads of Canson Mixed Media paper, and a sheaf of good white construction paper for The Sunday Kina. Kina’s feet have grown at least two sizes, I’ve developed a minor repetitive-stress injury, and Laurea has built up an admirable amount of patience for the two new rituals that this publication requires of me—twenty minutes in the morning to draw the paper, and roughly an hour to write this newsletter every night.
In the morning, after I write the paper, I photograph it on the trunk in our bedroom, tape the day’s edition on the kitchen cabinet, put yesterday’s in an archival box I keep on Kina’s shelf, and post the picture on Instagram. Somebody asked me once why I don’t leave the paper on the spiral binding—it would be easier for her someday to just have the notebooks, they said, and the torn edges look messier. None of that matters to me, because the paper is for us, today, to live with. I hang it on the kitchen cabinet so that Kina can ask about it, and so that we can all be reminded of the things she did the day before. For a very long time, the blue painter’s tape I used to display the paper was the same strip of tape I had used to hang the quarantine calendar. The passage of time.
I thought I would do this for maybe a hundred days. That felt like enough. After that, I thought I’d do it “until the pandemic ended”, which now seems like it may never actually happen. Eventually, I came to think I’d do it for a year, and here we are. Now, I think I’ll try to push on and do the newsletter for a year, sometime in June; maybe that’s more than I can handle, maybe it won’t be enough. The thing about marking time is that you start to feel some stewardship of it—as though, without your observation, it will cease to pass at all. If I were to stop writing about Kina’s childhood, could I seize it from the air, like a bird? If I keep watching, will she keep flying? If I were to walk away, who else would be there to marvel at it?
I have never tried to read all of last year’s issues, and I have no idea if Kina will someday be impressed by all of this, or bored, or mortified. I don’t know if she’ll find them as funny as I do, or as informative. I don’t know if she’ll pick up on the gravity of what was happening in world around her, because I tried for the most part not to talk about it. That’s been a reflection of what this paper has been for—a distraction, a documentation of a single life that is precious and newsworthy to me, and a reminder that some chaotic things are wonderful. Back in August, I wrote about who this all was for:
I try always to remember that there are three different audiences for this paper: Laurea and I, who need a place to reflect on Kina’s absurdity; Future Kina, whom I want someday to read these and see what she was like in this weird sliver of time; and all of you, who are reading this both to understand the mental state of a preschooler who is largely unaware of [waves hands wildly] and to give yourselves some shelter emotionally from [waves hands wildly].
I know this has been good for me, and for our family. I want this to be good for Kina, someday. I’m glad it’s been there for you, and that you have all been able to reflect on this with us. Sometimes, in conversation with a friend, they will bring up something that showed up in The Daily Kina, and I’ll thank them for their subscription, as a joke. It really does mean a lot, though, that this news has been comforting for you to follow. I hope the rest of the world’s news also gets easier to follow, and that the furious rantings of a random small child are no longer required to keep you afloat.
I have to wonder how long that will take, and how long it makes sense to keep all this up. It’s hard to conjure up the moment when I will finally be content to stop watching this little bird fly through the air. All I know is that it seems absurd to imagine myself drawing The Daily Kina when Kina is eighteen, or twenty-one, or forty, and so it follows that at some point, I’ll stop. All I know is that today is not that day. Today was just a day. And tomorrow will be, too.