Monday, May 25, 2015

Generation next

The man and I were at my niece's high school graduation party in Maryland yesterday. The event was in the evening but our other niece, the one attending dental school nearby, came early to spend the day with us. My goddaughter, the graduate, was excited to see her big cousin. Breakfast was "pick-up" codfish and boiled green bananas, a real Jamaican feast. I like that portrait I made of my niece, above, sitting in my cousin's living room.

My two were off on their own in Rome (my daughter) and at a bachelor party in Atlantic City (my son), but my niece represented them. My husband and I admitted to each other later that it had felt as if one of ours, our eldest, was there with us.

I'm always thrilled to see my gentle-spirited nephew, who was fresh from his freshman year. His dad showed us a video somebody made about him and in it he said he wanted to play guitar till the day he died and then a few days after that. He also said he'd wanted to be B.B. King. I posted the video, which included snippets of my nephew playing, on Facebook. Ms. Moon commented,"He has been touched by the gods." B.B. King's adopted daughter would know.

My Uncle Don was there, visiting from Jamaica. He was married to my dad's baby sister Elaine, who died many years ago when my cousins were in their twenties. Uncle Don is 88 now and in peak health, but he is lonely. About his granddaughters, he said to me, "You have no idea how much Elaine would have loved to see these girls." His voice quavered with emotion as he added, "This living alone thing is no joke." It was not the non sequitur it seemed.

That's the graduate on the right, with her older sister. They took over the basement for a dance party while the older folks, parents, aunts, uncles, older cousins, friends and neighbors of parents, enjoyed burgers and hot dogs from the grill as well as jerk chicken, escoveitch fish, plantains, hardo bread, salad and cake. It was a lovely multi-generational event, the kind I wish we had more often in New York, but cramped apartments make it hard. At Thanksgiving, we do try.

Meanwhile in Rome my daughter was having to adjust of her fantasies of what the experience was going to be like and settle down to the reality of it. Transitions are hard. New people are hard. She texted me that she wandered around Rome by herself this afternoon, a little anxious and moody, but then she wrote about finding solace in the overhead dance of seagulls as she stood on a stone bridge. Her dad took the photo of us before she left for the airport last week Thursday. She joked that we have taken a million pictures in just that spot before a million goodbyes. We talked on FaceTime tonight. She said, "I'm only three days in. I have to remember that." Some loneliness is probably normal. I hope she will pour that surfeit of emotion into her writing. She has to write three crafted pieces each day, based on her inner and outer experience of the city. I know that it can be easier to write when you're a little bit melancholy, but the mother in me wishes the world would just conform to her fantasies already. Sometimes I see that I have passed on a shadow of my own chemistry to my child, and I wish I could have spared her that. Especially in Rome.

18 comments:

  1. You may have passed a bit of your make up to your daughter but like you, she is also resilient. She will be fine and learn much.

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    1. dear e, your mouth to God's ear. Thank you, friend.

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  2. Oh god. I do so understand what you mean. But...we have given them what we have, whether in DNA or in loving care. She will be fine. Trust me. This is going to be one of the best experiences of her life.
    But it may not come easy.
    As to your nephew? Yes. I said what I said and I mean it. He has been touched by the gods.

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    1. Ms. Moon, why do we want everything easy for them? That's not life, is it? And yet the heart aches when theirs does. That's nature, perhaps. That's love.

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  3. Your family is so beautiful, like you. I love reading about them and seeing these pictures. Your daughter will be okay. It's normal to feel what she feels at the beginning of such a trip. I too hope she pours these emotions into her writing. She'll adjust as time goes on. I'm glad you share as you do. Your family and all you put into it is so nice to see.

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    1. Joanne, i am so glad for your forbearance as I write about these people i love, and for whom i am making a record of sorts. And yes, I do think my girl adjust. This is only her second day of classes after all. Send good thoughts! xo

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  4. I love this post! The pictures are so beautiful, most especially the first, an amazing portrait.
    I know exactly what you mean about wanting the best,easiest most wonderful for our babies but then I see how my baby comes through the struggles that are part of a life well lived and I am so proud of the strength in her.
    sending love always.

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    1. Yolie, you're so right. Every struggle makes them stronger for the next struggle. We have to trust them. I love you, woman.

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    1. John, it has that "it" factor doesn't it?

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  6. I think e said it best. She is resilient like her mom. What an amazing experience to be in Rome.

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  7. I love how big your family is. A never ending supply of love and support.

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    1. Birdie, it is a large family. For one who tends to isolate as much as I do, it is a true blessing.

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  8. I love that portrait at the top! Beautiful! Great composition and lighting!

    Your daughter will adjust to her Roman experiences, I'm sure. She's not even over the jet lag yet! Loneliness and a sense of displacement are natural at first.

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    1. Steve, it's true of course, loneliness and a sense of displacement are part of all the great travel experiences in literature, so why not in life? Thank you.

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  9. That's exactly how I felt my first few days in Paris. And I know exactly what you mean. I feel the same way when I see myself crop up in Ayla.

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    1. Brittany, i totally thought of you in Paris, and that gave my heart some comfort. xo

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