Growing up in MN the word kick meant just that, to kick, as in to forcefully move your foot backwards and forwards. It was a word usually reserved for use during soccer games or on occasions that eventually led to me being sent to my room. Then when I moved to Bozeman, MT for my university years it quickly evolved into an adjective used to describe the snowiest of days and the most rockin runs at Bridger Bowl, the mountain where we could usually be found whenever we were supposed to be in class. We regularly found ourselves giving proper thanks to the Snow Gods on kickin' snow days, usually in the form of the sacrificial Guinness and plate of nachos at the mid-mountain chalet. Then the word kick took a bit of a hiatus the year we spent living in Buenos Aires and traveling around South America, as we were slightly more preoccupied with phrases like "where's the nearest cheapest hostel" and entering pharmacies to make requests such as "we'll take 2 yellow fever shots, 2 rounds of anti-malarials, and a Hep B booster please". And then for what I thought would be the final stage in the evolution of a word, we moved to NY and I quickly developed a slight (aka: astronomical) kicks habit and a whole new meaning to the word was built. Wedge kicks, strappy kicks, brunch kicks (yes, Sunday brunch in NYC requires it's own breed of kicks...) and of course, kicks that were never meant for anything more than being taxied from place to place or suffer the bloody consequences if you actually tried to walk in the damn things.
Kicks. We've come a long way from the soccer field.
Today I still get some use of those old meanings of the word. Ash and I kick the ball around the yard, on occasion he kicks his toys in frustration, and I pretty much had to give up my kicks habit to support his. Who knew toddler boys shoes could be so freakin cute. But lately an even newer use has begun popping up with greater frequency. One with both literal and figurative meanings, I'm discovering.
Baby Helena is literally kicking my belly, though it feels comfortably similar to the months leading up to June, 2008 when thoughts of Baby Ashton Wondemu began (figuratively) kicking at my heart. Swift, sweet pangs of wonder that would prick me on the inside anytime I tried to picture who he was, who he would one day be, and how many loving souls would play intricate roles along the way. And each time I feel a little nudge from his sister Leni it makes me wonder if Serkalem, Ash's birth mom, has made the same sort of progression of the word only in reverse order. Starting with the physical kicks to her belly leading up to his birth back in 2007 to now 3 years later experiencing the occasional jab to her heart when thoughts of who he is, and who he has become wander to the forefront of her mind.
It was a day in March 2 years ago when she said goodbye to him and passed him from her arms to the nannies at the orphanage. I imagine the kicks she feels each year around this time are hardest most painful kicks of all.