On the island there is a House of Caviar and right next door there is another house for children, so I have been told, with glass bones. I walk past these houses 2 or 3 times a week. I have never been inside either of them but I have wondered a lot about how they came to be next door to each other. The only relationship that I can find between them is that they house rarities and some rather rich people must have built the houses given their prime real estate location. I know that caviar comes from the belly of the sturgeon but I don’t know where bones made of glass come from. I know caviar is considered a delicacy for connoisseurs of fish eggs but I don’t know what sort of fragile taste for life children with brittle bones have.
The thing about rarities is that they have the potential to be both desirable and scary. I had no difficulty scoffing caviar and its mother when I was living it up in Tehran many moons ago but the idea of a mother delicately holding her new born for fear of “breaking it”, is really scary to me. I would not be comparing such incomparable “items” were they not juxtaposed before my eyes on a weekly basis. My imagination cannot ignore such strange anomalies. I usually stride past early in the morning or late in the evening so I never see any sign of life in either house. I saw an ambulance outside once but that just conjured up shattered glass.
The problem with my imagination is that it can make life seem scary when it is just doing what life does: going on, with or without me thinking about it. It would be easy to stay focused on caviar rather than glass if I were not going to be a grandmother for the first time in December. I remember when I was going to be a mother for the first time my worst fear was to slip on ice, drop the baby and see its head shatter like a pomegranate before my eyes. Yes, I can see the connection between the seeds of a pomegranate and caviar and the shattering of glass and, no, I have never consulted a shrink about this!
From a left brain perspective this is one more baby joining the 9 billion projected to crowd the planet before too much longer. However, considering things from the limbic and reptilian portions of my brain, this is MY granddaughter and she is already as rare to me as the finest of caviar and as exquisite as the most beautiful of Venetian glass. There would be no issue with thinking these delightful thoughts if they came on their own. They don’t. Years of mind watching, albeit masquerading as meditation, have shown me that a mind seduced by its own imagination easily falls prey to fear, anxiety and other related members of that family. When I think of this little baby going about its business of growing enough to be able to face the journey into the world, I feel joyous until I start imagining all the things that could go wrong on the way. I don’t want my granddaughter to go to the house on the island where children’s bones break easily. I don’t care about the caviar next door. I just want this baby to come in one piece with all the parts, in all the right places – regular – conventional – familiar – nothing rare. And you, do you remember what your mind looked like from the inside when you knew you were to become a parent or a grandparent for the first time?
Nota Bene In fact, on checking Wikipedia at the outset of writing this Heartlines, I discovered that this condition has a name: Osteogenesis Imperfecta and the disease is what the name suggests – an imperfect formation of the bones, leaving them brittle and subject to fracture. It is painful and effects one in every 20 000 live births – in the USA. The “house” in question is the Fondation Paul Parquet on Ile de la Jatte and it welcomes children from the ages of 0 to 6 with all sorts of congenital diseases including this particular one.