Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One of those places, one of those times

A silly, self indulgent post about the power of pictures, nostalgia, and the tricks of memory. As I was taking these (and many other pictures) of Dear Alex over the last weekend, I had this sudden, powerful sweeping sense of nostalgia for myself and an imagined Dear Alex of the future. I had this feeling that for whatever reason, this day, the moments of running in the sun by the old boat racks by the lake will be something that she'll half-remember, as I half remember things like this from my childhood - that sense of place and freedom and safety, turned loose by my parents to run harmlessly wild for a moment - that moment poised somewhere between toddler and child and kid. There's something powerfully timeless in this place - it's an everyplace that you can see in thousands of pictures of kids by the lake, an almost cultural universal. I was tempted to turn the pictures black and white, or give them a kodachrome fade to push the sense of instant history I felt when I was taking the pictures, but there's no need for affect - time itself will do that. This is not meant to be a depressing post about loss and nostalgia, but something about the universality of that feeling of wonder that we share with our children as they grow and (hopefully) remember how they got to be who they are.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

To any and all that might check in - Dear Alex has the best and most wonderful mommy in Beautiful Wife, and they're so great together. It shows in the wonderful little person that Dear Alex is becoming. I love what they do for each other and all that they do for me. Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Another city weekend

Creepy and hypnotic jellyfish at the aquarium - I could have stayed there for hours, watching the oddly meditative motion, but was saved by Dear Alex and Beautiful Wife.

Dear Alex shares her fries with Beautiful Wife. Nathan's is an original.

The picture you're supposed to take - in front of the "Wonder Wheel"

Another round on the carousel - 5 times, and she didn't want to quit.

I didn't want to stay in the city this weekend - it really seemed like one of those weekends that would be good to get away from the constant press of the city and it's demanding rhythms, but it didn't work out that way - again I was stymied by my own inertia, and Beautiful Wife's exhaustion at the week that was. To her credit, BW came up with a plan B that worked spectacularly well to change the mood and make the low energy and low grey skies bearable. We got in the car and had a mission to go to the aquarium in Coney Island. It started out to be one of those "educational" trips that you do with your kid, and ended up being a really satisfying day of fun and play and learning off-the-books, so to speak. We got to the aquarium and into the parking lot and turned the car to face the famous "cyclone" a wooden rollercoaster that is still running. Dear Alex caught that and the "wonder wheel" a huge and seriously antique ferris wheel - and definitely wanted to know more about those things than any of the mysteries of the deep involved in the aquarium. We worked out an effective compromise, and basically ran through the aquarium, stopping to see some yellow fish, a surprisingly large and docile sea-lion and her progeny, and a tank of sharks and turtles. Dear Alex was not all that impressed, though I was and could have spent a lot more time there just watching the fish swim roundy-round. It is a nicely put-together place and well worth exploring - we will go back. I did have a moment to get lost in an exhibit about jellyfish - It was oddly mesmerizing, watching these simply hateful creatures swimming peacefully and majestically in tanks with all-blue lighted backgrounds in a completely dark room. Creepy and fascinating, and Dear Alex and BW had to drag me out...
We had lunch at Nathan's Famous, and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and looking at things and riding a carousel, around and around and around.
It ended up being a long day for us, but we had a lot of fun, and it was a delight to try to see this storied place through her eyes. Dear Alex had a great day, and she's becoming a sweet and complicated little person - but for now she lives and takes great pleasure in the "now", and that's a terriffic reminder to let go of what you think you want and enjoy where you are.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Grey Friday blues

She still loves the yellow raincoat, and the weather certainly made it appropriate.

Dear Alex among flowers - serious, sweet, and if you look closely,
covered with snot. That's my girl.

Friday was a long day - Dear Nanny J had the day off to take care of some health issues, and though it wasn't supposed to be all day, that's how it turned out - I have no issues with taking care of Dear Alex all by myself for a whole day, but this one was different, and it put me in a less than hopeful mood. The weather was perfectly dreary, and it matched the way I think both of us were feeling - we had a fine morning, with a trip to the coffee store (one of the half-dozen Starbuck's within easy walking distance) for daddy, and a lot of books. We had a super time completely destroying the apartment, with clothing and books and toys spread from room to room to room, but there was something off about Dear Alex, and although she enjoyed our various activities, she wasn't her usual playful self, wanting more to sit quietly, not eat, and just be lazy-messy. I was restless and a little bored and cranky myself, as there were some things that I was hoping to accomplish, now out of reach with the responsibility of taking care of the kid. Eventually it dawned on me that there was going to be no reprieve, so I figured that it might be better to just get out of the house and do something, anything to break the funk. Dear Alex and I went for one of our epic walks, ending up at the East River, to play in a sandbox and contemplate the fog and mist and chill of this strangely fall-like day. A few days ago there was sun and warmth and a promise of spring, but lately, there's been a cold grey chill that feels more like November than May. We ended up having a great (if not a little subdued) time, playing in a chilly, wet sandbox until Dear Alex was covered with sand, and running around the small park and to the fence at the edge overlooking the East River so that Dear Alex could see the many boats and tugboats that went by. We spent a long time in the park, and spent a long time at the river, watching for boats - Dear Alex was fixated - It made her happy, I think to imagine her friends from books; Scuppers the Sailor Dog, and Scuffey the Tugboat out on the cold waters flowing endlessly past. The only thing better than watching the river was the long hot bath she had when we got home - raisin fingers, raisin toes.