Sunday, June 16, 2013
"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it."
"You have my whole heart. You always did. You're the best guy. You always were."
Happy father's day to the good fathers I have been blessed to love and be loved by—my dad and my husband. My daughter and I are taking her dad to brunch and then bringing him home for the key lime cake she and her BF made him yesterday—they were such a team, working seamlessly together—and fizzy mocktails. As I write this her mixer is whirring in the background, whipping up the meringue icing, and she is zesting limes while watching Friends With Benefits on Netflix. My husband is at a talent auction fundraiser where his flower arranging and seafood gumbo-making skills are being auctioned off to the highest bidder. He'll be home soon, so I better stop blogging and get ready. That photo of my husband and children may be my very favorite; I've posted it here before. It reveals the wholeness of their connection, their tender bond, the simple trust with which they love.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
A "lime," in Eastern Caribbean parlance, is an easygoing stretch of time when you and one or more people with whom you adore spending time, do whatever you choose, with no fixed plan, just loose outlines of what might happen, with the assurance that no matter what transpires you will have a rockin' good lime.
My daughter and I limed yesterday afternoon. It began with mother-daughter pedicures on the upper west side, during which she brainstormed questions to ask three food vendors she is profiling for her internship. Then, our toenails screaming red, we headed to the High Line for late lunch, watching the sky grow more ominous from the window of our cab. As soon as we arrived the sky opened and we sheltered under an overpass trying to wait out the rain. My daughter climbed aboard the Citi Bikes lined up in a pristine row along the sidewalk, and pronounced the bike to be "way cool." Citi Bike is a new program in the city. You sign up online and pay a small monthly rate, and then you can check out a bike for an extended period, so long as you return it to any one of the numerous bike locations around the city before the month is up. No more tripping over bicycles in small apartments or paying high bike room fees. I sound like an ad but no one's actually paying me to say this.
When the rain didn't seem to be letting up, we decided to make a dash for the food court on the High Line, which is an outdoor park built along an elevated abandoned railway line. It's probably my favorite place to go in the city. The people watching is unparalleled. And since my girl just wrote a piece about new flavors on the High Line, I was eager to sample some of them, with her as my guide. The brisket sandwich she wanted me to taste was sold out, so we had ribs instead, followed by a little cup of tiramisu gelato. I snapped lots of photos of course, mostly of my girl. What can I say? My children's faces enthrall me. My daughter did her level best to ignore me, until at last she said, "Enough, Ma!" but cheerfully.
It stopped raining while we were eating and so we strolled along the tracks, stopping to listen to a solo musician who had set up under one of the covered areas. His playing was haunting, and my girl dropped some dollars into his case and we stood with a little cluster of listeners until he was done. Then we sat on benches and chatted and caught the breeze as the sun dipped into the Hudson River. We enjoyed watching a group of Asian kids in prom finery, posing for photos with the day setting behind them, their mothers tugging at dress straps and fathers straightening ties and smoothing lapels and all of them beaming with pride.
Soon it was time to head home because my girl had evening plans with friends. I caught one last photo of her in the cab home. All in all, it was a very sweet lime. And after she left to meet her friends, my husband and I had a very sweet Friday night lime, too, and that's probably as much as I'll say about that.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Now that the sky-obliterating scaffolds around my building have been finally taken down, the benches where I like to sit and read and dream and watch the leaves sway against the blue and chat with my neighbors who happen by, are accessible again. This is such a good thing for my state of mind. Another good thing: I'm working from home this morning, and my girl is free to spend the afternoon with me. What will we get up to? Stay tuned.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Sometimes I walk past these sweetly manicured brownstones in the city, and I wonder who lives inside, what their lives are like, if their corner of the world is as manicured as the facades of their homes appear. Today I am slogging through, dragging myself and my dark thoughts through to day. I am imagining everyone's life more perfect than my own, their pockets more able to carry the weight of their responsibilities, the bodies lithe and supple, their homes large and light-filled and artfully appointed, with enough storage for everything of course, and no penchant in them to worry, certainly not the way I worry about the most minute things, almost superstitiously, as if the moment I let up worrying, disaster will blindside me, so I have to keep it at bay by worrying. Sometimes a new danger occurs to me, one I didn't even know to be worried about until I chanced across it, and I feel a wild flash of panic, as if I need to make up for lost time, as if I better get busy worrying about that thing before it has a chance to find my house and come through my door. You might think I'm kidding, but sadly, I'm not.
I had an 8 a.m. meeting this morning, way too early for me. There was a panel of five women and one man talking about what can be done to curb gun violence. They offered the usual prescriptions about background checks and assault weapons bans, but there was also some exploration of societal factors that escalate the problem. One of the women, a psychologist, talked about the need to teach our children to handle disappointment, and to help them foster a sense of kinship with others, especially those who are different from them, rather than an absorption with self and tribe. And then she said this: "We have to allow our children to fail. We have to let them fail and show them we still love them and that the world didn't come to an end. We have to teach them how to pick themselves up after a failure and go on." It's seems so obvious, really. So why do I worry so about my children as if they are delicate hothouse flowers I must protect at all costs, not the resilient, wise, quick-humored souls I know them to be.
So here's a question: When you think about someone having it all, having goodness and wealth and health and beauty, having love and community and purposeful occupation, I mean everything we dream about having, who is that for you? What public or private figure comes to mind? I'm just curious. And I'd wager whoever it is, would be surprised to be seen that way because perfection, the kind we might dream of having, doesn't exist in our understanding. Maybe I need a new understanding.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I'm a little burned out with blogging at the moment, feeling as if I'm just repeating myself and not really liking to hear myself whine. So unless I feel compelled to write a post, for the rest of this month I think I might just post photos and maybe sometimes a quote that's speaking to me. The only quote speaking to me today is from Danielle LaPorte, who wrote "Love your sadness. It won't last." That sentence has been playing in my head ever since I read it a couple weeks ago, which is one clue that behind my fairly functional public demeanor, I am sad about something. Maybe my elders. My brother and I are going to St. Lucia next month to clear all personal effects out my mother's house by the beach and get it ready to be rented. In the background of my life, I'm struggling to come to terms with this. The photo is of pedi-cabs on Sixth Avenue yesterday.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Truly, I have had the best parents. And I was privileged to witness my father in love with my mother, and she with him, till the very end. Were my father alive, he and my mom would have been married 65 years today. They had been married 47 years when he died in 1996. I miss him, and I also miss my mom, who called me from my brother's house in Jamaica three nights ago to tell me happy birthday. "It's not my birthday," I said as lightly as I could manage, though it frightened me to realize that she was losing track of days. "It isn't?" she said, momentarily confused. Then she caught herself. "Oh, I see," she said. "I have your name in two different places in my prayer date book." I told her she could write my name on every page of her book, and send prayers up for me every day. "I already do that," she said, a smile in her voice. I didn't make too much of the mix-up and she didn't appear to either. But I think it might be time for another visit to see her soon.