May 30, 2014
When I ride my bike in the city, I realize that I am always searching for spaces of freedom. Weaving in and out of traffic is a space like that. Ironic, because the cars/pedestrians swell and swarm all around, but in between the front bumper of a bus and the taillights of a car, I find what feel like vast chasms and in those I spread myself out. I’ve been biking from Harlem to mid-town Manhattan for a few years now. Biking in a city where most people do not commute that way is liberating – it makes me feel like the life where I work in a big building at a desk in a financial firm isn’t permanent or an entrapment – just a stop along the way.
The path is great: along the parks of Harlem – St. Nicholas to Morningside Park straight into Central Park, all the way to mid-town where the dance with the taxis begins. I glide into the parking garage at the base of the 44-story building where I work on 50th and Park Avenue, where I meet some of my friends – the parking attendant guys. At the beginning, they used to greet my rougy cheeked (infused from the park air and cross-town fight) grin with a non-plussed shrug. Slowly, I warmed them up though. After a few weeks of arriving with my fresh grin, they started to grin back. Soon our daily hellos grew into longer exchanges and then they were my friends. They watched my belly grow twice (I kept riding in pregnant up to a certain point) and glowed congratulations when they saw me back on the bike when I returned a few months later.
About a year ago, though, I had a run in with one of them. I was walking my bike in the garage amidst the BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes back to the tiny bike cove and one guy was backing up a large SUV in my path. I kept walking because although he seemed pressed, there was enough room for me to weave around him and another car. He contorted out the window and screamed at me, telling me this was no place for bikes and I better stop walking in the way of the cars they need to park. I was probably a bit sensitive because I was just newly pregnant, but I immediately choked on a sob and continued crying as I left the garage. I didn’t realize the other attendants had witnessed this until yesterday morning (a full year later) when a Jaguar pulled up next to me as I was going to park my bike in the cove. One of the attendants smiled up at me and proclaimed, “Bully’s gone!”, belted out a big laugh with a thumbs up sign and zoomed down the lane of the garage in front of me.
May 28, 2014
May 26, 2014
On our whilrwind trip to Paris this weekend, one of the finest things was finding my sister-in-law and her family again. They've moved to a neighborhood just outside of the 19th arrondissement in Paris - and to a house that used to be a bicycle factory...it is almost a loft with bedrooms carved out of the vertical space. Romy was a treat for everyone ad she was cooed in admiration at her French cousins and aunt and uncle. These are the Parisians we miss most and wish the Atlantic weren't quite so wide.
I love a French boy's desk.
May 24, 2014
More on the rest later, but we came to Paris for a wedding and have tested the limits of Romy's sweetness. She doesn't have any, it turns out. 7-hour flight from New York - we placed her in the bassinet and she calmly went to sleep...we had to wake her when we were landing. We brought her to this wedding in a grand chateau - sound reverberating off the stone walls from 150 guests and she didn't make more noise than a small meow at one point around 1am. She is something else.
May 18, 2014
The French gave us that lady out there sashaying on the Hudson River and they also gave us Xavier. He is now American and few things in his life have made him more proud. Xavier was caught by surprise by his own emotions as he listened to President Obama welcome him (televised recording). Xavier immediately registered to vote - as a democrat (he emphatically insists). He takes his citizen seriously. I committed that I would work on my French citizenship this year too (since every member of the family is now a dual-citizen - including Marguerite). I am just slightly less persistent.
Happy new citizen party! Here Amy is waving her flag to Colette's beat. Colette was really excited about this little party. She kept exclaiming, "Happy Birthday!" of course.
Appropriately, we have been enjoying New York a bit as Americans - stopping by the Statue of Liberty and sailing a full circle around the island of Manhattan with lovely cousin Jill. I love this lady.
May 16, 2014
I never expected the cure for my frantic, guilt-ridden form of motherhood to be more motherhood. I am really cool now. Two babies and I caught my breath. Maybe it is just Romy. (She is marvelous, otherworldly, angelic).
I went back to work last week. I ride the subway home with a calm heart - contained in my chest, listening to my NPR podcasts, wondering about the people around me. No frenzy. No self-condemnation when the train is held between stations. Just hush.
This birth revealed that every birth is totally different. My experience with Colette felt so universal - like all mothers in the world must know their baby in this unique way. And then I had a second baby and I know her very differently and she seems to need me differently. I feel freer in the experience and more entangled because there are two. It is a lovely incongruity. Bless you, little Romy, sweet soul.
May 11, 2014
May 6, 2014
This mirthful little 2-year old soul. Colette is killing us these days. Her classic line when we are transitioning from one thing to the next - time to go at the park, bedtime or nap time, bath time - is "2 minutes." Xavier really captured the moment/her expression above. Sometimes Xavier will point out that she has already said 2 minutes five times, then she will pause and renegotiate: "5 minutes," with any number of fingers displayed.
She does not like being kissed - when I sneak one in, she generally scrubs the kissed area for any remnants and sometimes adds, "Ew, iscusting!"
She is making strides in language - mixing English and French. As she walks out of a room, she will turn to the person she is leaving and say, "Have a great day. A toute à l'heure." In her food orders: "I want l'eau aussi!" "I want a jambon". One of my favorites is her formation of the negative in English: "I did it not."
Potty training is going well. Self-directed, like most things for Colette. After sitting on the potty and producing a #2 (fitting for this post) - her first #2 ever - she examined the result. She looked completely astonished and said, "Dog poop! I did a dog poop! I did it!"
Colette is a self-soother in a very literal way. When being put to sleep, we will hear her in the monitor: "It's ok Colette, don't worry Colette. Don't cry Colette." And on a recent road trip: "Seat belt on Colette," "Almost there Colette." And you should hear her phone conversations...