Here’s a lovely picture of us in NYC, not all that long ago. All the pictures of the kids posing in front of the mandatory New York attractions aren’t digital. WHEN AM I GOING TO GET THAT SHIT TOGETHER, I WONDER?
My husband had a meeting in New York last Friday, so I decided to call in sick to work, (which is very easy, since I’m the boss and the employee–I never say no).
It happened to be April school vacation week in Massachusetts, a time I’m very familiar with in New York. We often took our kids to the city for this school break, and it seemed everywhere we looked, there were old versions of our family. Moms decked out in utilitarian jackets stuffed with tissues and lipstick, a supply of snacks varying in nutritional goodness. Although the mom’s would like to wear their new boots, since it’s the city and all, they’re sporting sneakers because they will walk 200 miles today and can’t be the one to say “uncle.” They’ve got on sunglasses and hair that is reacting to the weather, so it might be under a baseball cap, if necessary. The dad usually has on something embarrassing, like a t-shirt that emphasizes his stomach, which, let’s just say, is not what it was, but since it’s New York, maybe a cool-ish jacket–or just not that old thing he usually wears at home. The kids have on the newest Nike’s, the “it” jeans, or sports clothes emblazoned with either their school name, or their favorite basketball/baseball/hockey/football team. They are growing in time lapse photography. As you pass them, you can see them gain inches, while their limbs extend.
My husband and I have a spectacularly good time. But everywhere we go, we bring up something we remember about our kids in the place we are standing. On Fifth Avenue, as we stroll by Trump Tower, which is guarded, and has barricades around the whole thing, like it’s some important place, instead of what it is–the grotesquely over-designed home of a despicable man with a moral IQ of 2 and a real IQ of -1,092, we remember walking with Jake and Ally, who is about three years old, Peter carrying her on his shoulders, and her crying and vaguely pointing to her feet. She did this every once in a while and it mystified us. We were all trying to understand what was wrong so we could fix it, but she just kept crying, when our son said, “Pins and needles, Ally, do your feet hurt?” And mystery solved–her feet were asleep. We laughed our heads off, as we rubbed them to bring the circulation back. Right there on Fifth, Jake’s brotherly love had come to the rescue of his sister.
Jake loved New York, as we always knew he would. A baby/kid/adult with an active mind and body, the city was just like him–open 24/7.
On Broadway, we talked about the plays we’d seen together, Wicked being our all time fave. We sang the soundtrack all the way home. In Central Park, we walked through all the areas that we’d walked through together, the trees about to bust into bloom, the flowers doing their Fashion Week debut, stopping at the fountain we’d found a small trio that we asked to play at our wedding (pre-kids). We played the game, “Where are those people from?” We saw our former selves everywhere, the different versions, the exhaustion and elation, the irritation and hilarity.
On the way home, we stopped to see Ally at college and take her out to dinner. I couldn’t help but be shocked that she was all grown up. Not like, I hadn’t known this and had just awakened from a decade-long coma, but in that way that’s impossible to process that a little baby comes out of your body and then one day is able to walk away from it. It seemed she’d just been crying on Fifth, and now she was informing us of an insight she’d made about the prison system.
It occurred to me that this is a lot of life, if you look carefully you see your past and your future all around you, all the time. This weekend, it made me grateful for where we’d all been together, now and then.