Wednesday, January 7, 2015

In the sweet midwinter

The first snow of the year came down like a whisper yesterday morning and I was so grateful to be inside my house looking out. It was bitterly cold outside, and grey enough that I put on the Christmas tree lights and happily worked on my manuscript in their festive glow. Our tree this year has barely shed even a needle. It's still the holiday season over here, with gifts still not put away and no hint of a move to dismantle the decorations and take down the tree.

While I worked yesterday, my daughter went to meet up with friends, among them two boys from Durban, South Africa, one Black, one White, both of them tall, lean and handsome and of the same age as my daughter and her friends. The boys are visiting America for the first time and are happy to have fallen in with this crew of girls, who have been taking them around the city and showing them the authentic New York experience. One of my daughter's friends has also just returned from a semester in South Africa, so there is a strong connection there. Yesterday, the gang went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My daughter, who has been there many times on school trips and otherwise, marveled at the way the boys scrutinized every painting and took their time. "I guess they can't visit it anytime they want so they made it count," she said, realizing how much she takes for granted. My Christmas gift from her this year actually came from the Met, a beautiful pair of yellow gold hoops with colored stones. She had been with me as I fawned over them in the airport museum store on our way to San Francisco, and so she went to the Museum itself after we returned and got them for me!

Later, two other friends of my daughter came over. They all went through the same scholar program in middle and high school, the one that made my seventh-grade girl throw herself across the bed and declare through tears that I was ruining her life, but which she later thanked me for making her do. "The program changed my life," she told me on her first visit home from college. "I understand now why you insisted." It was a moment.

One of the girls who was here with us last night went to the same middle school as my daughter. She lived with us during the summers after seventh and eighth grade so they could take the subway to the summer immersion program together and do homework late into the night together. They had a lot of work that summer. The program was rigorous and meant to set them up well for competitive high schools. The girls were often bleary eyed come morning. Yet my husband and I would often hear uproarious laughter from my daughter's room at well past midnight, and the sounds of the girls choreographing various dances to popular songs instead of writing papers. As you can see from the photo here, the same spirit still prevails.


  1. Every bit of this is wonderful. That snow- I can almost hear the hush of it. Your festive lights, still aglow, the part about your daughter remembering how much you loved those earrings and buying them for you. The boys from S. Africa who have lucked out in the very best way, finding themselves with such beautiful, knowledgable tour guides. The friends whose lives you DID NOT ruin but enriched. Your life. You taking the time, as Mel quoted today, to look about and say, "Well, if this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

  2. This post, and the one right under it, read here on my lunch break has given me as much nourishment as this food. I love your family so much, and I think it's so odd that I think so highly of people I've never met. It makes me wonder how much our worlds would explode if we got exposure like this to every single family.

    Your girl just radiates.

  3. I've missed your pictures of the city. Damn, I miss that city! It looks beautiful. Such a peaceful post. As I was doing tongue stretches for Jack after his tongue tie procedure, he would scream and it was horrible because it seemed like I was hurting him, but I had to do them so his tongue wouldn't reattach a third time and a good friend of mine said: that's what being a parent is all about - doing what's best for them whether they like it or not. And it made sense after that. I've heard people say that before, but it totally makes sense now. You're a great mother. Your daughter is a great woman. xoxo

  4. It's great that your daughter got to see the museum through the eyes of a visitor. When you live in New York it's easy to forget how remarkable it all is, how incredible the resources. (Same for London!)

  5. Having young people in the house. Best remedy. Enjoy.