Hi. It’s been really cold here. The kind of cold that hurts your face. I don’t think we’re used to winters like this anymore. Brutal. But I have to say that I haven’t minded all that much (not that I’m spending any real amount of time outside), but I just make sure to bundle up in a million layers and wear my ridiculous floor length down coat and shearling lined boots and it’s been…refreshing. But what is up with the kids refusing to wear hats and gloves in this weather? Do they not have the cold feelings? I’ve given up forcing them to wear their cold weather things because it’s gotten pointless. I’ll at least flip their hoods onto their heads if they refuse to put on their hats and they’ll immediately flip it back down. Repeat the back and forth flip/unflip all the way to school.
Mark and I both had a very busy week of work. The week ended today on his birthday, which we celebrated with a dinner out at a newish ramen place and some cake at home. The girls get so giddy over birthday cake it’s contagious. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love cake, but the sheer giddiness! Claudine insisted that Mark sit at the head of the table and that I bring the cake over while they sang happy birthday with the apartment darkened except for the candle. It had to be done a certain way – their way. So bossy.
Anyway, the cake. It’s been so long since we’ve bought a cake since Mark is the resident cake maker. It’s kind of like eating other people’s cookies – something we rarely do or buy at the store because, well…you know. While eating cake, Mark and Mia discussed what kind of birthday cake she might want for her upcoming birthday and she said Black Forest. It made me laugh. Mark’s been asking the girls for their requests on cakes ever since they could talk and have an opinion, and he’ll usually make what they request. The cakes all turn out good no matter how unusual the flavor combination, but it doesn’t always mean it’s a hit at birthday parties. There will always be those handful of kids who will bring their uneaten plate of cake to Mark and politely (and often shyly) say, “I don’t like this cake”. Haaaaa. I guess sometimes you can’t compete with Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines.
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We spent most of last week with Mark’s sister and her boyfriend as they came for a short visit here and then drove upstate to visit their dad. We joined them upstate over the weekend. The girls adore their aunt; she might very well be their favorite person in the world. Their relationship is quite special and she and I were talking wistfully about a time in the not too distant future when the girls might get too old to come running into her arms. Their time together is always full of energy, laughter, hugs and at any given time, at least one of the girls climbing into her lap or clutched in an embrace. In 6 or so years they’ll be more interested in hanging out with their friends than they are with family. I was a kid once, I remember.
It’s hard having family 3000 miles away though we do a pretty good job of keeping in touch via various channels. It’s why our annual trips to Seattle are so important. I’m an aunt too, to my brother’s 2 young kids who live out in California, but our relationship is not as effortless. I hope that changes sometime soon though. It’s strange to have family out there that you don’t really know too well yet. I just wish that we could all be together more often and that distance, time or money wasn’t such an obstacle.
Our trips upstate to visit Mark’s dad are always wrought with all kinds of feelings. Even though its only a 4-5 hour car trip away, mentally and emotionally it often feels like a bigger trip than our west coast ones. It’s been a difficult 2 years of being in and out of hospitals. Right now he is in a nursing home. Nobody wants to say it out loud, but nursing homes are sad places. Maybe they don’t have to be, but in this situation it’s kind of sad. The visits themselves are good usually, but it makes you think head on about the past, the present situation, and also the future. His dad said something this visit about how he never imagined he’d be in this situation 5, 10 years ago. It was a wistful statement filled with some regret, but also of acceptance on a certain level. Sitting on the edge of that bed in the nursing home watching the girls read their books squeezed side by side in an arm chair in the corner of the room, I thought about the fact that someday we will be old too. That is still a ways away, but it’s hard sometimes not to look into the future when you are dealing with what you always thought was the future right now in the present.
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It’s always interesting to go back to a place that you lived in the past. For Mark, it’s going back home. For me, it’s a different kind of home. You look at familiar landmarks not through the lens of childhood memories, but still from a time when you were young. That woman ringing up your coffee in that cafe could’ve been you or your friend 20 years ago. Some things are different, but some things haven’t changed and you find yourself in some kind of weird time warp.
We saw 2 movies 2 nights in a row while grandma watched the kids. 2 movies in 2 theaters that couldn’t have been more opposite – Dark Knight rises at the mall theater and Moonrise Kingdom at the Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia. If you know anything about the Seattle/Olympia music scene in the 80s and 90s, then you’ll know about the Capitol theater. Built in the 20s, the theater still pretty much looks the the way I remember it when we saw movies and shows – the same red velvet theater seats, heavy brocade curtains up on the stage, and the same chandelier up on the ceiling. It’s a little bit shabby, a little bit nostalgic with ghosts of bands past. The way any indy arthouse theater should be. Perfect place to watch Moonrise Kingdom, I’d say.
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I missed this place.
I missed this view.
I missed our family.
I missed the memories.
It’s good to be back.
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We’ve been spending most of the week in the burbs at my parents’ house. My mom’s been doing a lot of cooking and we’re getting our fill of Korean food. Even Claudine is coming around to some dishes she’s rejected in the past. The kids take walks with my dad to the post office and he always buys them some sort of sugary treat (and tells them not to tell me). The evidence is on their faces, however, covered in traces of powdered sugar or chocolate.
I’m sure that when the girls grow up they’ll remember their regular visits to grandma’s house fondly. It’s not an experience that I had growing up. The one and only grandparent who we had a relationship with is my mother’s mother, who actually raised me for 2 years in Korea and then came to NY herself. She lived with us for awhile after my brother was born. She lives by herself now in her own apartment in Flushing, still cooking for the family at nearly 90 years old. While we were close to our grandmother growing up, we didn’t have visits to “grandma’s house” like the girls have.
During these visits, we get a taste for life in the burbs. Interesting enough, the girls like to have the run of the house, but they have little interest in playing in the yard. City kids. I don’t know…are we just accustomed to the manner in which we grow up? Even though I grew up in the city, we had a house with a backyard and a swingset. My brother and I were out there all the time.
One of the other main reasons we come to the burbs in the summer is to use the private town pool (Claudine figured out how to swim yesterday!!). It’s huge and is adjacent to a playground, tennis and basketball courts. During snowstorms, the neighborhood kids go sledding here too, but we we’ve never tried it. During the week and even in the weekend mornings, we often have the whole pool to ourselves, unlike the city public pools. It’s all very quiet. Maybe a little too quiet. When we go back to Brooklyn, it’s nice to see people walking in the streets, to see kids in the playground, to bump into neighbors…
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1992, Oregon Coast
2012, New York
10 years ago today Mark and I were in Hawaii getting married. 20 years ago we met in Olympia, Washington. 1992 was a huge year for me. I moved out of NY and started a new life, much of which I chronicled on this post here. I’ve been keenly aware that this personal anniversary of sorts was coming up. The 10 year wedding anniversary is big, certainly, but when you’ve been with someone for 20 years, the 10 years is sort of inconsequential in a way. I’ve written enough in the past about what it might mean to know someone for so long and to have met someone so young, so I don’t really have more to add.
But 20 years. It is a long time. What does that even mean? I was talking with someone this morning, a parent from C’s kindergarten class, and I was sort of thinking out loud that a 20 year relationship is like having a few different relationships back to back, only with the same person. The first 5 or so years you’re just barely adults; life is fun. The second 7 years might be a little more turbulent – you’re trying to figure out your life, your career, maybe questioning if it’s still working at all. The last 8 years is all about this family that you created.
And the next 7 or 10 years?
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