My son and my niece L are back from college. My son's best friend E just graduated from boarding school and in the fall will be headed to the same college that my son and niece attend (it's really becoming a family affair). They and others of my son's friends, fresh from their first year, are often hanging out in my living room. My daughter's friends are also coming through to say hello to the college kids. My daughter asked if five girls from her high school could stay over next weekend. I said yes. I always prefer the party to be happening in my house where I can see what's going on. On the car trip back from picking our son up from college, she informed him of the sleepover plan.
"Thanks for the heads up," he told her. "I'll make myself scarce."
"No you won't," she informed him. "You're the reason they're coming."
At which point he declared how offended he was that she was using him as a "trophy brother."
It's so hard being beautiful.
My son will working at the sleepaway camp he's attended every summer since he was 11, but that job doesn't start till June 12. He's a full-fledged counselor this year, instead of a counselor assistant, as he's now 18. He'll make at least enough to buy his books for sophomore year. A lot of close friends from his camping days will also be working, including some who live as far away as London and Rome. The camp, located by a lake in the Connecticut woods, is very much "their place." I think when my son looks back on his youth, it will be enormously significant in terms of friendships, mastery of self, and survival skills, both social and wilderness.
My niece L is working as a photographer's assistant, a job that is turning out to have quite a few perks as the photographer does many celeb shoots where there is beaucoup swag. My magazine hires him sometimes to cover events, and he'll say to my niece, "Your aunt hired me to do so and so, please tell her thank you." They both know I have nothing to do with the hiring of photographers! We're tickled that my niece, who is very petite, is doing this job, which requires her to cart all the photo equipment and do set ups and set break downs. But she's a strong girl. She's the number two ranked women's squash player back home. She has muscles!
With all the activity in the house, my daughter, the only one still in school, is challenged to keep her homework going, but she seems to be managing. Last year was the same thing, and she ended the year very nicely, on the honor roll. I hope she'll be able to do the same this year. She has also once again negotiated what now seems to be an annual Greenport trip with her longtime friends from elementary school, despite impending finals. It worked out okay last year. In fact, she studied harder for finals to prove I hadn't made a mistake in saying yes.
She was looking up the schedule for the Hampton Jitney last night, and assured me she would pay for it with her babysitting money. There are a couple of adorable little girls upstairs who keep asking their parents if my daughter can babysit them again. And, I will admit without shame, I also hired my daughter to do the laundry weekly. Yes, I pay her. That way she is obligated to do a good job and carry on through from start to putting-clothes-away finish. It works out well, because I passionately hate laundry and she doesn't mind it. And she likes making money. She buys her own clothes these days. So grown.
Our friend Jax from Antigua, who introduced my husband and me, was also in town for a few days. We dined out, did Broadway (we saw Fela! with my daughter and my niece, then had a late night Japanese dinner), grooved in jazz clubs, shopped and just walked the city sidewalks. It is such fun to do the city with Jax. She is so excited by it all. She gives you the experience of seeing it anew, and getting excited again, too. New York is electric. We take for granted how alive it is at all hours of the day and night. Being with Jax reminded us. It also helped my husband and me plug back into "our story," the magic and romance of it, and that always makes everything shimmer just a little but more.
I also love when the house is full because my husband and daughter get inspired to create in the kitchen. They love an audience, the more the merrier. Last night my husband made ropa vieja and jasmine rice, specially requested by our son, while our daughter experimented with a raspberry jam crumb cake, which was beyond heavenly and did not last the night.