Mother Blue

I photo. I take day trips. I lightsaber battle. I analyze the stuffing out of myself.

Month: April, 2012

Sunday Dresses and Subway Grates

Snowglobe from Chinatown given to me by Jack (cell phone pic)

“Stop spinning around, all over the aisle, young lady…”

Shopping for a few last-minute items necessary to complete Easter Sunday dinner, I overheard these words, uttered in complete exasperation, between mother and her tiny daughter.

“But I just look so pretty today. I just have to spin…”

She was dressed in her Sunday best for the Saturday Easter services. Lace and chiffon, ruffled anklets and patent leather shoes. She had to be no more than eight.

Her sister joined in, matching fluttery spins. Mom’s arms were filled with packages. She tried to quell their reverie, this time in a much sterner tone. “Stop Spinning! Just stop it! There are people trying to shop here.” They held back a bit and walked behind the weary mother. They spun again, quietly as they grabbed more groceries. They needed to play their not so secret, secret game for a few more moments.

• • •

I felt the guilt and weight of the above scenario almost immediately. Sometimes I am so very quick to stifle what appears to be useless nonsense in my eyes. Sometimes it is a necessary lesson in decorum, other times is it stupid grown up rules of “how to behave” and overall lack of little person patience.

On the car ride home, I began replaying the montage of Jack stifles I have doled out over the years, clocking in my head all the hours and wondering which one will be the ONE he tells a therapist about in later years. Hours of stifling laughter and mischief into a myriad of different versions of the phrase, “What the heck do you think you are doing? Saying? Eating? Etc.?” Sometimes I feel I am snuffing the life out of his childhood curiosity, one phrase at a time.

• • •

Driving through the Holland Tunnel (cell phone pic)

I had planned on a working, photo project oriented, NYC trip, but my travel partner’s illness and other circumstances altered the chain of events. At 11 am on the day before the trip, I called my husband and asked if he could take tomorrow off. I am usually not this spontaneous and I could have gone by myself, but Dave and I love New York and we have always wanted to share our love of that city with Jack. So we snatched the little one from school and headed east on an adventure.

Our trip became one of those unplanned, jump in the car and pick a direction, whirlwind family vacations. We had no idea what this adventure would bring but the weekend left us with some simple and truly magical in moments. There were so many little moments that the memories play out like snippets of text written out on an old-fashioned teletype machine.

Jack staring out our hotel room window, moments after we arrived. He was fascinated by the Chinese symbols on everything. He sat in that window for the next half hour and copied them all down into his notebook.

The trip was simple. The moments were simple.

• Jack asking us to spell the word “colorful” as he carefully scribbled every moment of this weekend into his journal. • Mom and dad singing to Foreigner and Hall and Oates. • Small hotel, the queen size bed nearly took up the whole room. Walking sideways was necessary to sneak around each other in order to get to the bathroom. • Four TV stations. The Food Network made us hungry for everything. • Saturday morning Starbucks and a walk contemplating the possibilities. • Jack on his first cab ride, more fascinated with the little televisions inside than the city view. • Walking the length of Times Square, ooohing and ahhing at giant M&Ms. • The Toys R Us had a giant kiddie ferris wheel piercing through three stories of merchandise. • Afternoon with an old friend, lunch, MOMA and Cindy Sherman. • Sleepiness and Washington Square Park. • West and East Village. • Tiramasu and people watching in a tiny restaurant in little Italy. • A walk to ground zero. • Three little rings, one for each one of us in Chinatown.

Rooftop bar with a view. (cell phone pic)

Our first evening there was our most magical one. We had no expectations for this day, so it made it all the more simple. Prior to the plan of taking the family on this trip, I had made plans to meet a friend for a drink in the city. So Dave and Jack made plans to check out the area around our hotel while I journeyed in the opposite direction.

We walked towards the village. I had always wanted to see Manhattan from above in real life. The weather was perfect. The sky was clear. I wanted to capture the moment from every angle. My friend found a place not too far from the hotel that had a rooftop bar. We crashed the fancy dinner party that was taking place around the bar and out on the roof. I was still slightly haggard from my long drive east. I was keenly aware that my less than dressy outfit complete with very worn tennis shoes and frayed pant cuffs looked very out-of-place. They asked if we were with “the party” and my friend immediately said yes. I drank my free wine and made it outside to the edge of the building, and looked out into this city that I love so much. The people looked so close yet so far away. I wanted to stand on the edge of the building and just dive into it all. I wanted to yell “helloooooooooo, I am hereeeeeee!” to the crowd of people rushing off to begin their Friday evening plans.

We walked back to meet my family, stopping at a tiny bakery along the way. We sang cheesy 80s tunes loudly, badly, joyously as we made our way through the beginnings of everyone’s evening. I felt the energy of everything. The energy of the possible. We all met up outside the hotel and began to walk around the city and chat. I felt alive. As Dave and my friend chatted about New York and the subways and the city sites. I turned to Jack, grabbed his hand and said, “Are you ready?” He giggled and said yes. We took off running down the block leaving our walking companions behind. We ran and jumped on the nearby subway grates, listening to the loud booms as we landed. It was the only thing I could think of to do to capture my excitement for being in this city with the people I love most. I was running toward something, feeling inspired and overwhelmed, unstifled.

I couldn’t sleep that night, too excited, too something. I listened to the cars outside and felt the subway roll underneath. I watched the thigh high boots and the late night walks of shame, and waited until dawn so I could step out into it all again. I felt like those little girls in their Sunday best and I just had to spin…

Remnants of fashion. Somewhere in the Village. (cell phone pic)

Bowery Street (cell phone pic)

Walking through Little Italy. (cell phone pic)

Little Italy and the Empire State Building. (cell phone pic)

Spying on the tourists in Dunkin Donuts. (cell phone pic)

Times Square (cell phone pic)

Jackie feigning shock and awe in Times Square (cell phone pic)

Walking to MOMA. (cell phone pic)

Ken laughing at Jack dancing to Kraftwerk at MOMA. (cell phone pic)

Jamming to Kraftwerk. (cell phone pic)

Sneaking a Sherman pic. (cell phone pic)

Intersection (cell phone pic)

Late Dinner in Little Italy. (cell phone pic)

Very Old Tombstones (cell phone pic)

Chinatown Starbucks. (cell phone pics)

Good and evil Jackie (cell phone pic)

Ruckus in the East Village. (cell phone pic)

Little Italy. (cell phone pic)

Little Italy. (cell phone pic)

Hotel. (cell phone pic)

Gas lights in the park. (cell phone pic)

Washington Square Park. (cell phone pic)

Tribeca. (cell phone pic)

Sleepy family. (cell phone pic)

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Night Swimming and Happy Birthdays

Jack and Max, by Cara McDougal

A lot on my mind and a lot on my plate these past few weeks. Not the least of which has been suffocating feel of time progression that seems to get faster and faster with each passing day. My blog entries become less and less even though I still have so much to say. I have got my head in the game, the eye on the prize, and yet time seems to saunter mockingly all the while running at an electric pace. Time, oh no, you have not been a friend as of late.

• • •

The other morning as I was tired from a long night of work, fumbling for my keys, and working hard to get into my car. I overheard someone getting into the car next to me say “We are young” as in the context of “Why not, we are young. Let’s just do it.” For all I know they could have been discussing the possibility of switching from diet to regular soda, or excited over staying up past 10:30 p.m. on a school night (which is usually my version of a leap into adventure). We Are Young. The words hovered in the air for a second. For reasons I did not yet acknowledge in that particular moment, I was left sideswiped and so awestruck by the power of those three little words that I opened my car door and fumbled for something to write on in my overly cluttered glove box. I sat down in the driver’s seat and wrote those words down in big bold letters on the back of a scrap piece of paper (which may or may not have been the back of my registration card.) WE ARE YOUNG…

• • •

My little boy turns seven today. This birthday is the first one where both my husband and I have admitted to feeling the real impact of the weight of his age. A friend of mine encapsulated the reasons for this perfectly. Seven means our little ones are really in the full throes of being a kid. All signs of being a toddler are way in our rearview mirrors. The slow and steady pace of the endurance test that is adolescence to the wretched middle school years and beyond has begun.

 • • •

The photo at the top of this blog was taken last summer by a good friend of mine. Jack is the one on the left. This image took my breathe away when I first saw it. To me, it is youth personified. It is exactly how I see Jack. It is exactly how he feels to me, to us. She managed to capture it perfectly. I had thought of including many pictorial representations of Jack for this particular blog entry, but in the end this photo became the only one because I felt no other image could illustrate Jack more faithfully and beautifully than this image could.

• • •

After scrawling down the words WE ARE YOUNG and tracing over the letters a few times, I turned the key in the ignition. That ear worm of a song “We are Young” came on. I laughed at the timing and the coincidence and knew it had less to do with some magical, cosmic connection with the universe and more because you simply can not turn on the radio right now without hearing it or a station fading into it within moments. I knew everything about this moment was cliché as I was living it, but age and mommihood entitles you some cliché. Not to mention on this particular morning I had completely forgotten to pack Jack’s lunch and had raced over to the school unshowered and unkempt hoping to get his food to him before his foodless panic set in. My penchant for caring about how I looked or what was playing on the radio had pretty much flown out the window in that moment. So I sat back and listened to the poppy tune. Ah youth… that song’s intent was to manipulate the listener into an anthem of experiences of his or her own youth and declarations of living life to the fullest while things are still brand new, or at the very least a vehicle for which us older folks can reflect upon. But I didn’t reflect upon my own misspent or misguided and sometimes intoxicating youth. For the first time I really thought about his.

I mean I really thought about it. He is in IT. WOW. I always knew that this was his time, but I had to remember that it is actually HIS time. He is experiencing his youth right now; not this abstract or voyeuristic perspective I have of his growing up. These are his memories and they are all coming fast and furious while I am sipping my coffee and making my phone calls. His firsts, the life of his own, as a friend of mine put so eloquently in her blog post: I am beginning to watch him run toward something else, and away from me. The stuff I now reflect upon about myself as I get older. It is his slow motion montage that will be played through filtered glasses and “edited for television” at a later date. His journey to be whatever he wants it to be as he gets older, all slowed down and subtle, with all the feelings that those moments emote. The stuff that dreams are made of and car commercials run on.

My nostalgia level is probably waxing more lately not only because of Jack’s birthday, but because I had been working on my son’s elementary school yearbook. I had been logging in quotes and memories of the past school years from the staff and students, and had been pouring over current classroom photos that will eventually meld into “what were they thinking” hairstyles and faded memories. I was seeing and reading all the talk of the “possible” and knowing they don’t yet understand the gravity and weight of their choices, their voices, and their ideas at this stage of their game.

 • • •

The Youth song faded into a muffled and incoherent wall of sound. I left the radio scan for a bit as I journeyed home. “Nightswimming” was half over but I stopped the scan there anyways. My youth began to fade into my mind. I never night swam until I was an adult but the recollections of moments came into play. The simplistic beauty of that song took me back to every first everything, to the point that this whole morning car reflection experience felt corny and overly earnest but not necessarily in a Lifetime movie way. I guess more in the movie montage way or another contrived way that sometimes actually happens in real life when you sit in the parking lot of your son’s school in ripped sweatpants and tousled hairs on a random Tuesday.

• • •

I keep finding more and more reasons to want to be. I am still on the edge of exploring this newfound lust for life that has reared its adventurous head to a woman whose realistic, responsible self usually beats the idealistic one into submission. New people to love and appreciate, kisses to give as the credits roll, hugs to random strangers. I am waiting to go night swimming again and skinny dip off the highest cliff with the ones I love. Right now I am standing on the edge, naked, ready to dive in. I am getting ready to jump.

• • •

Happy birthday my dearest, Pumpkin King. You have made me want to believe that all is possible.