Sunday, December 26, 2021

Covid Christmas

It's almost a tradition now. Every year I can count on my daughter's boyfriend's sister to send me the most Christmasy photo to land in my inbox for the season. It's always of our girl and her guy, and now their dog Munch, too, standing next to the Christmas tree amid wrapped presents, in matching Christmas jammies that his mom picked out for them before they arrived. Not gonna lie, it looks like the Christmas I once wished I felt capable of creating, but I have come to accept that organizing such an occasion is not my gift. It was my mother's, however, which is why I've always felt this is what Christmas should look like, but I just didn't have what it took to pull it off. My husband will tell you that after I began living away from my home of origin, I didn't ever have a Christmas tree until I married him. He is still the one who goes out, usually with our children, and gets the tree, and he and my daughter are the ones who decorate it, while I sit across the room and point our holes where an ornament is needed. 

I'm happy that my girl now gets to experience this immersive family Christmas with her love and his extended clan upstate, because I do think she is more like my mother in this way, and that when its her turn, she will manage the festive pajamas and decorations, too. And if last week when it seemed our girl might have Covid was any indication, her love enjoys being able to celebrate these rituals with her as well. He said all the right things to relieve her guilt at possibly not being with him for Christmas. But my girl knew he was disappointed. "He's texting without punctuation," she said. "That's how I know he's sad."

As for me, I had a peaceful Christmas. It was just the man and me, which meant I felt no pressure to "make something" of the day. We woke up slow, I made my father's Christmas morning cheesy, oniony scrambled eggs with bacon, then we opened presents while my husband ran a playlist of carols on the new Vizio surround sound speakers our daughter's love gave us for Christmas—it was like the choir was in the room with us! Later, we watched the movie Klaus on Netflix and then spent the better part of the afternoon cooking a honey-glazed ham and truffle mac and cheese for dinner while watching the always good-humored contestants on The Great British Baking Show. 

Our son was working at the firehouse, where he has been exposed to covid all week, but seems to have no symptoms. He called us on Christmas eve and on Christmas day, and I asked him to send me a photo of him at the firehouse, to which he simply responded, "No." So no Christmas photo of our darling boy but there's my man with the GoPro I gave him for Christmas, and the accessories to the main bundle that our children added. "Happy adventuring!" they told him. He could have used that camera when he was swimming with sharks on the reefs off Belize last week.

I loved all my gifts, including the book Renegades Born in the USA that my husband gave me. It transcribes the historic taped conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen, with photos and other documents and memorabilia of their friendship.  


My son just called. He got off his shift at the firehouse this morning and is now home alone, as his live-in love is at her parents home in New Jersey.

"Do you want to come over?" I asked him.

"Nope," he said. "Definitely not coming over. I just tested positive for Covid."


He says he has only a slight cough and some fatigue, the latter easily attributed to his having worked last night. He sounded almost pleased, or maybe it was merely relief that he no longer has to play cat-and-mouse with the thing, after successfully evading it for two years. I suppose this was probably always going to be an inevitable outcome, given how out there and exposed he has been from the start. I pray that his symptoms remain mild. In that photo of my boy on the train, I still see the mischievous expression he had as a little boy when he'd done something that made him rather pleased with himself. We never stop seeing our babies in the grown men and women our children become, do we?

Friday, December 24, 2021

She does not have covid

Three separate antigen rapid tests said she was negative over the four days we waited for the PCR gold standard result to come in. It finally hit her email this morning. It, too, was negative. So she went north as planned to spend Christmas with her love and his family, we drove her there this morning. The family came out with bags of gifts and plates of pineapple-glazed ham and Mac and cheese and blueberry loaf cake and caramel popcorn for us to take back with us to the city and they seemed very happy to have our girl back in their midst, especially her sweetheart, and that made us happy as we drove away, just the man and me, the way we started out, as we like to say. Merry Christmas, all. It’s going to be a quiet one over here. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

I love to see it

“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” 
—Toni Morrison, Beloved

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Vacation snippets and omicron news

We stayed on San Pedro island off the mainland of Belize last week, a beautiful and laid-back place, where the people were, without exception, warm, helpful, and congenial. In every single interaction while we were there, we felt fully welcomed.

Getting out of New York was an adventure in itself, as our flight was delayed the first day, causing us to miss our connection in Miami. The airline rebooked us on a flight for the following day, but our bags having already been checked, flew on ahead of us, to be picked up by us once we arrived in Belize City on a different airline. Then it was onto a 14-seater to fly 13 minutes to San Pedro. That's me with some other passengers on the tiny plane above. I thought the flight would be scary, but the alternative was an hour and a half water taxi ride after traveling most of the day, and my cousins had taken the water taxi the day before we arrived, only to have it break down on the open water twice. The crew got it going again with a hammer and a screw driver, but the hour and a half ride took them three hours, so after hearing that report I booked us on the puddle jumper, figuring I could weather being scared for 13 minutes. But the plane, tiny and cramped as it was, flew steadily and calmly into San Pedro, gently kissing the ground as it landed. Definitely a good choice.

Half an hour later we ate dinner from a row of food shacks, where my husband got into a long and animated conversation with a fisherman who manned the chicken wing stand, while I turned my face into the sea breeze and tried to adjust to the fact that I had arrived. I felt disoriented, not yet fully inside myself. The place was pretty empty, even though it was reportedly at full capacity. I think guests were out doing excursions and generally social distancing.

That's my nephew on the right and the daughter of a family friend, who joined our vacation group. The two young ones were on board a catamaran snorkeling trip, when the wind whipped their hair in twin tornadoes. They're beautiful, these young people. They, and their parents, and my husband all swam on the reef, and then swam with sharks. This was the highlight of the whole trip for my man. Certainly the boat experience was calm compared to the previous day's heart-stopping adventure.

The whole group of fifteen souls dressed up and went to dinner on Friday night, to celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries we couldn't celebrate together last year, because of lock downs and quarantines. That's the man and me. We joke that his shirt says that man is on vacation!

I chilled at a table in the sandy area behind the food concession stands, soothed by the palm fronds swaying in a soft early evening breeze.

The WalkingEagle men, father and sons, were on one side of the table when we ate at Carambas in town, best seafood on the island, everyone said.

My sister-cousin, aka the WalkingEagle woman, and my man were on the other side of the table with me. The food was as advertised. 

After getting our negative covid tests on Sunday, we said goodbye to the island yesterday morning, returning to the mainland as we came, on a tiny plane with spectacular views.

And then we were back in the netherworld that is America. The change in tone on our connecting flight from Miami to New York was so marked, the captain sounding surly and threatening as he warned passengers to keep their masks on and that if they didn't do exactly as the flight attendants said, they would be thrown off the flight. 

To be fair, omicron exploded in New York City literally the day after we left. The town we have returned to has a completely different feel than six short days ago. It's like March 2020 again, perhaps worse, because now literally everyone knows multiple people who have tested positive for the super contagious variant. My son, starting today, will be living at the firehouse so as not to expose his live-in love who will be going to her parents in New Jersey for Christmas, and also because there simply aren't enough firefighters to man the houses, as so many have come down with covid. Our boy picked us up from the airport last night and told us that once he goes in to work this morning, he won't see us again until after Christmas, when he's had a chance to test again and know his status. He reflected that he fully expects to get covid at the firehouse this week, and we all expressed the hope that if he does, his symptoms will be mild, as anecdotal reports suggest omicron symptoms generally are. Everyone is praying this pattern holds.

Meanwhile our daughter, who is with us for the week, is freaking out this morning because a friend with whom she spent time last week called to say she has been exposed, and is awaiting test results. Another friend called moments later to say her partner, with whom she lives, has just tested positive. So now our daughter is off to stand in a line for hours so she can get tested, too. She is terrified she has exposed us, but I feel somewhat blase about it all. If she's positive, she'll spend Christmas with us, not a bad deal. As for us, we went to Belize, we returned with negative covid tests. What happens next is anyone's guess.

Storm at sea

On day two of our trip, we crossed by boat to the mainland, drove an hour by van to a wildlife preserve, got into another boat and cruised up New River to take in the flora and fauna, sighting turtles, crocs, epiphytes, and a number of “life birds,” then spent the afternoon walking among the Mayan temples at Lamanai. It rained on and off all day, and on the drive back to the dock a monsoon poured down. By the time we got to the skiff that was to return us to San Pedro, the skies had cleared, so we climbed aboard for the hour long trip across open sea. 

There were fourteen of us on the small boat heading back to the island. Fifteen minutes in, forked lightening split the glowering clouds. The moon came out, a soft nimbus in the sudden darkness. Drizzle. The lightening moved closer. Rain. Waves getting tall. Finally our captain Eric signaled for rescue by a larger boat in the distance, which ignored our lights flashing out an SOS at first, the sturdier vessel fast disappearing, until a call to the big boss on the mainland made them circle back to get us as the storm rolled in. 
We climbed from our small fair-weather boat onto the large covered one, rain stinging our faces, the sea rocking under us, footfalls slippery, the transfer across dark water terrifying. But then we were inside the workhorse water taxi built to withstand such squalls. The wake was fearsome. Most of us were soaked and chilled right through. But we pulled in to the island an hour later, safe in the end, and with a new adventure in our pockets, a moonlit rescue on the open sea, a tale that now becomes part of our story, forever and ever, amen. Thank you, Eric, for keeping us safe and knowing when and how to bail. We were relieved to learn you and your brave little skiff put in safely, too.

Saturday, December 11, 2021


Photo by Danielle Lee


My niece Dani is a wonderful photographer. I love how she notices the world around her, like the juxtaposition of colors and the sign "Love" above that door in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She posted it on social this morning and I asked if I could use it on my blog. She said yes and immediately texted me the original image. I thought it would be a perfect sentiment for the top of my blog while the man and I are off traveling. I'm now in the throes of packing, with all the showing-up anxiety that provokes, but we are resolved to meet whatever circumstances we find in this new world of pandemic protocols with grace and equanimity, to be okay with all of it, to find the good and allow everything else to just be. I don't know if I will have the literal or figurative bandwidth to post while we're away, but if I find that I can't, let love hold this space until I return.

Friday, December 10, 2021

To be brave


"My son rolls up to a scene like this and doesn't bat an eye," my husband said, coming across this post about a four-alarm fire in Brooklyn this morning. He handed me his phone so I could see the video of the licking flames, swipe through the pictures, and read what the fire chief had shared. Extreme conditions. Firefighters trapped inside, quickly rescued. Four non-life-threatening injuries. Civilians safe. I handed back the phone and the man and I just sat, looking at each other, the two of us silent for a long time. I think we were both praying.  

May they all be safe always.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

A slant of sun

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the body weakens, how its scaffold crumbles in infinitesimal stages through a passage of decades until one day you wake up unable to execute a movement you could do only yesterday. I’ve been reading about the immune system, about inflammation, how the blood sends its emissaries to do battle with cellular invaders, and how sometimes these sentries don’t retreat when the battle is won. Instead they linger abroad, unnaturally swelling the field, causing progressive damage not just to the physical self but to mental and emotional bodies too. When exactly was the moment I could have halted the autoimmune invasion, turned it aside somehow rather than becoming host to this incursion being waged inside me, stealthy and merciless, wracking my entire being with flares of pain, even as I smile and unkink the locked muscle or aching joint, square my shoulders and carry on? Good morning, tree, with your branches dusted in sparse gold. I am moved by the way you stand with your few tenacious leaves glimmering in a slant of sun. No matter the season you hold the field. You carry on. 



Thursday, December 2, 2021

Back to the water

We'll be traveling this month for the first time in two years. In a couple of weeks or so, we'll arrive at this place. 

And stay in a garden cottage that looks something like this.

And sleep in a romantic mahogany bed like that one.

And possibly reserve one of those shoreline cabanas, lounging inside gauzy curtains and listening to the sea murmur beneath us. 

Then, come evening, we'll take in sunsets that set the senses aflame with color, which I think will be the capstone on a very fine plan. 

I have some trepidation, of course. I booked this stay for us back in June, when the world was newly hopeful that the pandemic might be on the wane, and hotels were enticing visitors to return by offering ridiculous deals to the vaccinated. I longed to once again dip my toes in the Caribbean, and feel the sand give softly under my feet. My cousin who lives in Virginia proposed the trip, convincing us to join a small group of people who want to recognize all the birthdays and joyous occasions we couldn't gather to celebrate during the previous year. Once there, she explained, we can choose to do activities be with the group or go off by ourselves, the best of both worlds. But then Covid surged again, this time calling itself Delta, vaccinations stalled, Omicron showed up, sounding like a new Marvel character, positivity rates climbed everywhere, some borders closed down, and travel was once again deemed ill advised. 

"We're still going," my husband whispered to me in the dark one night. "We'll wear our masks and be safe, but we're going." If you knew my husband, you'd know he isn't usually declarative like this except to heed the full desire of his heart and mind. I believe his Caribbean soul misses the sea as much as mine. And so we'll get our negative Covid tests and board that plane, and walk in the water once more.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The quiet after (plus an update)

We can ask and ask but we can’t have again what once seemed ours for ever—the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on belfry floor, a remembered voice, a loved face. They’ve gone and you can only wait for the melancholy to pass. ” 

―J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country


As you can see, we put down the new carpet for Thanksgiving. It lightened up the room somewhat. Everyone liked its neutral tones, about which I felt merely neutral. Still, it was good to have newness underfoot, and to not have broken the bank to achieve it. I'll be happy to switch out those tired old couches in another month or two. We’ll also probably let go of that way-past-its-prime brown armchair, and have one less piece of furniture in the space. But I may choose to keep the red curtains after all. A punch of color may be welcome. We'll see. 

Everyone but my cousin from Trinidad has now returned from whence they came, and we're all getting our covid tests, in Boston, in Minneapolis, in Dallas, here in New York City. Results in a day or two. Meanwhile, our son's PCR test came back negative, so all is well there. The New York Post broke a story about some municipal workers presenting fake vaccine ID cards to get around the city's vaccine mandate. I can't quite wrap my mind around this. Instead, I will continue to send up petitions that everyone remains healthy, and that those who do get infected will have only the mildest of symptoms.

Update: All our Covid tests taken today have come back negative, five of us so far. Phew. I think we're gonna be okay.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

A day to give thanks

That photo, taken by my niece, was probably the only good photo I got from Thanksgiving, or as it is more appropriately called, Indigenous People's Day. I'll probably still use Thanksgiving as shorthand, meaning nothing to do with the story of Pilgrims welcoming Indigenous people to their table, if indeed they did deign to break bread with them, talk about historical gaslighting. As an immigrant, I didn't have that story fed to me at the knee, and so I choose to use the word Thanksgiving in its most literal sense, a day to give thanks. I did field my usual anxiety during the early rounds; it's always nerve wracking to get everything cooked in our small galley kitchen, and onto the table warm at the same time. But somehow we always manage it.

Guest List

We hosted a much smaller gathering than usual, just the seven folks staying in our home, plus my son and his fiancee. My girl and her guy and their pup, and my cousin from Trinidad have been here all week. And my niece who lived with us for almost two years post college, is staying over for the weekend, returning to Brooklyn on Sunday. My niece who is at college in Minneapolis flew in to join the festivities, as did her older sister and her husband, who live in Dallas. I sorely missed my other cousin and her husband and older daughter, who live in Orlando, and didn't make it this year. On the day itself, the parents of my niece's husband also joined us from Brooklyn. Everyone was fully vaccinated and most already boosted.  

The Menu

My man does almost all the cooking, but for the corn and cheese casserole that I contribute, and the dish my son makes, sweet potato casserole, using his grandma's recipe. The man makes the turkey and stuffing, the baked ham with honey mustard glaze, the broccoli in garlic and oil, the three-cheese mac and cheese, and jalapeno cornbread. This year he also made cheesecakes with three different toppings (blackberry, raspberry, and caramel), and our daughter made two yummy apple pies. A guest also brought a rich German chocolate cake. We didn't have potato salad or plantains this year, as the people who usually make those weren't here.

The Feast

I finally exhaled once the meal was on the table. We stood in a big circle holding hands as my husband gave thanks for our beloveds being able to gather and enjoy it. I always love that moment. Just like when I was a kid, I never close my eyes for the grace. Instead I look around at everyone's beautiful faces, and my daughter is always looking, too, and we smile and wink at each other conspiratorially. Wine flowed as the meal was consumed, and later, we made margaritas, which I suppose is now a tradition. We talked and laughed and told stories till late into the night as usual, with me periodically packing the dishwasher, and then my daughter moved everyone out of the kitchen so she could clean up and put away leftovers. Her cousins soon pitched in to help. I fell into bed at midnight with every joint and muscle aching, but I was relieved and happy to have pulled off the feast with all these people I love for yet another year.

The Day After

We lounged around in kaftans and sweats, eating leftovers and binge watching Ten Perfect Strangers on Hulu. It turned out to be quite a creepy show, even though it had some weird version of a happy ending. Afterward, we all needed lightness and air, so we turned on The Great British Baking Show and cheerfully watched all the good-humored, real seeming people creating marvelous baked showstoppers, while puppy Munch trotted among us giving his baleful stare that said well, aren't you going to get up and feed me? 


My son called in the middle of the day on Friday to say seven guys at his fire house had tested positive for Covid the day before, all of them vaccinated. I don't believe any of them were very sick, if they showed any symptoms at all, but my son went off to get rapid tested himself after informing us we had all potentially been exposed. We were happy then that the gathering had been relatively small. We only had to make one contact tracing call, to my niece's husband's parents. There was some relief when my son's antigen test came back negative. He will still do the gold standard PCR test when he goes in to work this evening, as the Fire Dept. is concerned about the sudden cluster of breakthrough cases and will be testing personnel at the start of all tours for the next couple of weeks. 

Just Life, Really

We were all strangely calm when we got the news that we were being contact traced. I suppose this is just the way life is, now. My cousin will get tested on Monday, as she is traveling back to Trinidad on Wednesday and has to present a negative PCR test, and the man and I are supposed to be taking a jaunt to Belize in December, for which we will need to get tested and present negative Covid tests, too. Okay, I've run out of steam so here are some rather poor quality photos from my ancient phone camera. It might be time for a new one.

It's "no-shave November," but FDNY regulations say our boy isn't allowed to grow a beard as it would interfere with the proper seal of his protective mask, so he grew a mustache instead. He'll shave it off again on December 1, which none of us minds, as we're not used to him with a 'stache. There he is with his mama and one of his very favorite aunts.

Our son's fiancee joined us for the feast; she usually does this day with her family in New Jersey. We loved having her with us for once, it made the gathering feel more complete.

I read on an Instagram post called "Rules for Thanksgiving" that "nobody want's to see your food table." Well, there it is anyway.

Our children develop rituals with their loves. These two have decided that he comes to us for Thanksgiving, which we make a fuss about, and she goes to his family for Christmas, since they have extended family gatherings and we are always very low key. 

I'm pretty sure it never occurred to them when they decided to join us for the meal, that they'd be contact traced the next day. I pray everyone stays healthy and symptom free.

What can we all do, really, but keep on keeping on? And doesn't Munch look rather cozy snuggled in our midst? I hope you all had the day you wanted this year. As for me? I'm over here doing my best to take life one little moment, one breath at a time. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


adj. shocked upon looking twice at something you see every day and catching an obvious detail you’d never noticed before—an old scar on your loved one’s knee, a wall in your house that’s apparently always been purple, or a prominent building that seemed to appear in your neighborhood overnight—which makes you wonder how much else of the world you might be missing, when you’re just barely there yourself.  

—John Koenig, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


Thanksgiving week is here. My daughter didn't want me to post that last photo of her and her love at the Harvard-Yale football game, which it seemed the entire population of the northeast attended. "Too Harvard-y," she said, but they look so happy together, so I've convinced her it's okay. We're doing a small gathering this year, just the folks staying here with us, plus my Dallas niece's in laws, eleven of us in all. My son will be on shift at the firehouse Wednesday night but will be able to join us for the Thanksgiving itself, for which I'm grateful. You may recall we usually hosted twenty-five people or more, but the world has changed, and we must adapt, making peace with the fact that some of our beloveds aren't able to be with us this year. But others have already arrived, with four more to come tonight and tomorrow, all of us vaccinated. Last year it was just the man and me and our daughter and her love, and it was low-stress and lovely. Change is constant, but if we stay open enough, we might discover its gifts. This seems to be the theme of the week. Happy lead-up to Thanksgiving, dear friends, if you happen to celebrate it. Regardless, I hope you have exactly the kind of week you wish for.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

After the cut

They cut down the Honey Locust tree in front of our window yesterday. Something about the root system. I was bereft watching it go, this tree with its many colors, most especially its gold raiment, that kept me company through so many seasons as I sat by the window, writing, thinking, puzzling things out. Now there is only empty air where a mature tree stood, but now I can see other trees that were hidden before, and how strange to discover their patient beauty and to realize all is not lost, the cruel cut has been made, change happens without your consent, but inspiration can live in other branches, too.

Unrelated (or perhaps not), I won't be writing here about Kyle Rittenhouse being acquitted of the murder of two men at a Black Lives Matter rally last year, because we all know how the verdict would have gone down if he had been Black or Brown instead of White, so I'll be over here taking care of my mental health, because it's not as if any of us were one bit surprised. In fact, I was on the phone with my daughter yesterday when the not guilty verdict was rendered, and her only response was a quick sardonic burst of laughter at how absurdly wrong the whole things was. I have to laugh, she told me, or I'll never stop crying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Great Sea

I don't think memoir subjects can really grasp how fully they are with you when you are attempting to channel a book-length work on their behalf. Every day for the better part of a year, you sit in front of a screen and try to conjure their reality, their words, how they might have experienced the events of their lives through their five senses, even beyond what they have yet been able to share. So much connective material must be inferred, and you hope that when they read what you give them, they will exhale and say, yes, you got it right, and if you didn't get it right, they will say, no, not quite, it was like this, because what you managed to put on the page has helped them call to the fore memories that had been in hiding before, and oh, it's an incredibly intimate dance, and the sustaining of it requires a kind of attention and devotion to both person and craft that is hard to describe. But I'm in it, now. I'm in the middle of the great sea and stroking through the water slowly, thoughtfully, intentionally—rowing faithfully for shore.

A dismaying yet absolutely predictable feature of this process is when you look at what you have written and it all sounds like drivel. Maybe you just need to sit in a different boat for a while, take in a slightly different view, because even in those moments, you must press on.

Arriving at forty thousand words this morning, I'm halfway to a completed first draft. After that, the process gets a little easier, as you now have a map you can pore over with your subject in the effort to discover where refinements must be made.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Munch and other darlings

In one more week, this handsome guy will join us for Thanksgiving week, along with his humans. There they are below, all masked up for a team-bonding event with their grad school cohort group last weekend, and at the Charles River crewing regatta the weekend before. And there Munch is, helping his human dad with coursework yesterday. He's grown a lot, hasn't he? My daughter's love is a big data engineer who is getting his MBA, and I'm intrigued by how intentionally sewn into the social life of his program are partners, children, and even pets. I imagine the reasoning is that the students may well be in these same domestic arrangements as they pursue their subsequent careers, and why not fold them into the grad school experience in a relationship strengthening way. I'm grateful that my girl and her guy are able to go through it together, and even more grateful that she got to move to Boston with her job, working remotely for the two years of the program. To my mind, that allows my girl a requisite level of independence, something my father raised me to revere. The recent good news: My daughter's love has already lined up post grad school employment. The firm he did an internship with last summer offered him a full time job, and he has accepted. That means they'll definitely be moving back to New York City when he graduates next May. I could not be happier.

The last picture here is a throwback, taken in the early aughts when my girl was ten and my son was twelve. Look at the loving way we are all gazing at the photographer, who is of course their silly dad and my forever love.

The man and I actually had a bit of an argument yesterday, with raised voices and even some frustrated tears from me, and when we realized that we were both locked into our positions, and there would be no meeting in the middle, much less at either end, we both agreed to just let it be one of those things we would not agree on, and just move on. And we did, with no lingering resentment or vapor. It strikes me now that this is one of the great unsung joys of thirty five years of congenial partnership. You no longer have to be right every time. Or rather, you can sometimes both be wrong or both be right at the same time, and somehow, it's okay. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Little Island reverie

I did indeed visit Little Island with my cousin yesterday. I loved it's layout and design, loved the warm color of the wood used for its amphitheater, loved the sparkle of the river showing off its diamonds under a clear blue sky, loved that you can get everywhere, even to the highest lookout points, without climbing a single stair. Instead, you can meander along perfectly graded upward paths, which curve through beautiful plantings of trees and flowers and grasses, the entire setting wonderfully designed to accommodate the mobility challenged, people like me whose structural impairments make stairs difficult, painful, slow, sometimes just not doable.

Most times, when faced with flights of stairs (assuming they are optional, because sometimes they are not), I’ll say to my companions, you go on ahead, I'll catch you on the way back down. I don’t want to hamper or hold them back. Yesterday, I didn't have to worry about that. I got to explore every corner of the park built on top of weird tulip-shaped silver pylons standing in the Hudson River. The curving paths upward beckoned me on, with gratitude for the makers who understood that people like me would want to take in the view from the highest points, too.

That's me at the top of the southwest lookout with my cousin in blue. In my youth, I did ballet. Though chubby even back then, I was so flexible, my third and fifth position feet impeccably placed, my splits pure, my kicks higher than anyone else's when doing the Can-Can. I remember sprinting up stairs in my twenties, taking them two at a time, trusting my body to do my bidding without a thought. When did that change? It came on by degrees, my two legs different lengths since birth, the left hip slowly crumbling, both knees progressively shredded by falls through the years, so that now I walk as if broken, because that is the truth of it, parts of me are broken, but I can still climb to the top of Little Island along a beautifully engineered upward slope. It's crazy how happy it made me to be exploring that park with my cousin, navigating to every corner, included.