Do you know how sometimes among friends it can be hard to collectively agree on plans? Everyone throws out ideas and then you do this back and forth dance until a decision is finally made. It ends up sounding a little something like this:
So what do you guys want to do today?
Do you want to go to a museum?
Do you want to go to the street fair?
Do you want to go to the East Village? I think there’s a traveling circus performing today.
Do you want to go to Dumbo? There’s an art festival there.
I don’t want to go to Dumbo, I don’t want to go anywhere.
When your kids get older and start expressing their opinions about weekend plans, it gets much harder to motivate the family out of the house sometimes because there’s always that one person who disagrees and throws everything off when you have 4 people trying to make decisions. Sure, we can exercise our parental powers and make all the decisions – and we often do otherwise we’d be going to Coney Island every single weekend if they had their way – but we do like to give the kids a vote on how we spend our weekends sometimes. But holy hell! It can be a painful process.
When we finally got out of the house in the afternoon on Sunday after much group deliberation, Dumbo was already teeming with people. The Dumbo Arts Festival is an annual three day art event with exhibits, open studios and plenty of tables and supplies on the street to make your own little pieces of art. Despite the crowds, it was one of those weekend days that made the effort of getting out of the house quite worth it. Sometimes crowds can be draining and other times it can be energizing, and Sunday was one of those days where it felt good to be out in the city amongst other New Yorkers, looking at art, getting inspired and enjoying what is probably the last of the lingering summer weather. NY was full of energy last weekend; so many different kinds of events happening all over the city. And thank you to those who stopped by our booth at the Chile Festival on Saturday. If we appeared frazzled, I apologize. It’s always our biggest event of the year and this year proved no different. It isn’t often that I’m at these events, so it makes me really happy to hear people come back to say that the Chocolate Curry Fudgsicles were the best thing they had at the Festival or that they had never tasted this flavor combination before. And to that man who enjoyed the Massaman Curry Peanut Butter Sandwiches so much that he saved the last bite in a napkin to enjoy later because he didn’t want the cookie to end – you made my day.
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I heard on the news that a 10 year old girl drowned at Coney Island a day after our visit last week, climbing around the rocks after life guard hours. She and her little sister were pulled by people nearby, but she did not survive. I was just staring at those same rocks the evening before.
I think I’ve become more sensitive about adolescent pressures and the growing independence of the kids since the summer – not that those 3 things necessarily relate to each other, but they’ve all been on my mind lately. I wrote about independence a few months ago, but I struggled this morning thinking about middle school next Fall and the possible logistics of getting the girls to different schools at different times. I know that it’s still a year away and we haven’t even started the stressful middle school application process coming up in the Fall, but this was the thing I fixated on this morning. Ultimately, the kid will have to get to school by herself, like the majority of middle school kids in our neighborhood, but at this point in time, the concept of her walking around anywhere without me is something I can’t wrap my head around.
Sometimes I just want to hold on to my kids for as long I can, but I know I can’t protect them forever. After what’s happened recently, I have a new fear that didn’t really exist before, but they need to learn how to be independent too – to be able to navigate themselves in this crazy world, to learn how to cope with challenges, stress, peer pressure, and to learn how to survive. You can’t do any of those things for other people no matter how much you want. Isn’t that ultimately our job as parents? Our kids are growing up in a very different world than we did and most certainly will be adults in a world different from ours now too. We’re facing stuff as parents that no other generation has had to deal with before. In a way, we’re adapting and experiencing rapid changes in technology simultaneously so there isn’t as much hindsight knowledge to reflect on that might help inform us. Mostly, I think technology and the internet is positive and good, but we live in some weird times and there’s a lot of ill intent out there; childhood also feels shorter somehow.
P.S. That mural which has been the backdrop to so many photos I’ve taken of the girls over the years is being dismantled because of the structural integrity of the bricks. No one seems to know if it will be repainted again. Of all the things that have been disappearing in NY lately, this one made me really sad.
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A visit to the opening of our friend Fany’s little’s storefront adjacent to her production space last weekend in Red Hook. If you’ve been to the High Line, then you may have had La Newyorkina paletas before. We cruised by just as the pinata was raining down confetti and candy. It’s all about the little communities that form, that make us feel like we belong somewhere. I’m trying to see the light in that again.
Bubbles, Pinatas, Confetti. Just another weekend in NYC. Summer’s in full swing. School’s out tomorrow and we rub our eyes in disbelief that the 4th of July is already next week. June was a blur for obvious reasons, but also a month of changes and a shift in plans that were starting to take root a few months before. Somehow, the change seems fitting.
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There are glimpses of moments when I forget and feel like nothing’s happened. Maybe it was a dream. That’s far from true, of course, but it’s a reminder that one day that feeling will become more the norm than the exception. I’ve come out of hiding, even working in an office a few days a week (more on that later) and I don’t mind crowds because I can be anonymous, but the truth is I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Is it common to feel this?
And then there’s this: this seemingly random bubble event in the middle of the day in Union Square. It’s like every kid’s (and maybe some adults) dream to be surrounded by thousands of floating iridescent bubbles. They’re launched from wands by a force of air, but drift lightly until suddenly, they’re gone.
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And the weekend came out blazing, all sunshine and warmth and intense rays of heat. At the beach today, I lathered everyone up with sunscreen, but in a senior moment of absentmindedness forgot to put any on myself, partly because I was stationed under the beach umbrella the whole time and wasn’t really thinking. So right now my legs are pink and the kind of itchy prickliness that you get when you’ve gotten too much sun–a feeling that I’ve forgotten, to be honest, since we’re usually so meticulous about sunscreen.
But it was a pretty glorious, care free weekend of no work and eyes off the computer with multiple outings, made possible by working double time during the week to meet deadlines so that I can have a proper long weekend. Mark did, of course, work the market on Sunday, but when you have a good day and things sell out like limeade and fudgesicles, it makes working the weekend quite worth it.
Our neighborhood was quiet and eerily empty with plenty of empty parking spots dotting the streets (this is how you can tell when the neighborhood goes away on a holiday weekend–by the abundance of street parking), but as soon as we got off the bus to Brooklyn Bridge Park to go visit Mark at the Flea, we were hit with waves of crowds taking in the views of Manhattan across the East River and waiting on lines at various food booths. We were just talking the other day about how eating at outdoor markets is such a “thing” now, a social activity like shopping or going to see a show with your friends. It didn’t really exist before on this scale, did it? I mean there were always food at street fairs and festivals and even some farmer’s markets and those come close I suppose, but they aren’t a permanent fixture like Smorgasburg or as massive an operation–not to mention all the small businesses that it’s incubated. It certainly has changed the food culture of the city from all angles.
On the car ride to the beach this morning, I asked the girls whether or not they thought the year was flying by too fast. I know that time moves differently when you’re young, and as expected they couldn’t really grasp what I was getting at, but they did agree that the winter felt long. It feels like summer already even though the solstice is still a few weeks away. Memorial Day weekend has a way of fooling you like that, so much so that it almost feels weird to wake up the next day to normal school day routines of packing lunches and walking out the door at 8:20 in the morning with backpacks. But I know that the next few weeks will go by in a blink and before we know it, summer will be here for real.
P.S. Our annual Father’s Day gift boxes are now for sale.
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