I wrote a post about the one year anniversary of my brother’s death and birthday today, but I decided to delete it. Seems like that’s how it’s been going these days – second guessing everything. I’m too tired to write clearly, but maybe it was also too soon to write the post that I’ve been wanting to write.
Mostly what I’ve been thinking is, how can it be one year already? What’s in a year? Everything, nothing, all of it in between. It feels like a long time, but also like no time has passed. Angry, sad, and every contradiction in the book. It also reminds me of when I was little and how death seemed so enormous to me – not because I was necessarily scared of it, but because it sounded so final. Trying not to get overwhelmed by the finality of it all.
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I’ve been pretty quiet, I know. But sometimes you need to be quiet, you know? Just to balance out the “loudness” of life and all that comes with being alive. But I wanted to share these photos of our recent visit to Wave Hill in the Bronx. I suspected Spring would be a nice time to come, but I didn’t expect such a spectacular display of flowers. Seriously, this magnolia tree; it was magnificent. I had never seen blossoms like these before. It looks like a Saucer Magnolia which is everywhere in the city, but these blooms were fuller and luscious with a deeper, vibrant shade of pink, plus the blossoms were still very much peak when most of the sidewalk magnolia petals had fallen. As tall as the tree was, some of the branches of this massive tree curved down to the earth almost as if the size of the giant blossoms weighed it down.
I was pretty enchanted by all the various potted cactus and succulents when we visited last summer, but look…flowers! I wasn’t expecting to see them flowering this time around. I tried to get the rest of the family over to take a look while I geeked out on the flowers but they weren’t as overtly impressed like I was. Pffftttt.
And more magnificent magnolias – this time, a different species and a paler shade of pink.
I’ve been enjoying the flowers this Spring a little more intensely than other years. I guess something about surrounding yourself with beauty to remind yourself of the good things in life. Or something like that, right?
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When we were in Seattle last month, the city had an early Spring and the cherry blossoms were already at peak bloom. But you know what’s funny? We didn’t fall heads over heels like we usually do every Spring which was a bit surprising since we were so eager to shed all traces of winter. I mean the trees were beautiful and all, but they were just “there” in the backdrop of the city.
When the cherry blossoms finally opened here 3 weeks later, they enchanted us like they always do, and I realized then that the anticipation of the blooms was everything. At the first sight of the tightest buds, we’d start watching every day on the walk to school, wondering when they’d bloom. And then one day, seemingly overnight, they did. Like magic.
Hope you had a happy Mother’s Day.
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I like to think that those of us on the East Coast who weathered through a particularly tough winter are being rewarded now with a Spring so glorious that we’ve already forgotten how tightly winter had us in its grips. It has finally let us go – and there are flowers everywhere. Even on a day where it’s a little breezy and we’re still wrapping scarves around our necks, the wind is starting to blow the first white blossoms off the branches and the petals dance in the air like confetti until they litter the sidewalks with a sprinkle of white. We take our time walking home from school because we want to take everything in.
When I walked out of the apartment the other day without a jacket, I felt “nothing” in the sense that I wasn’t too cold or too hot, just comfortably right. And the weather and all this color does soften the sting that it’s already May 1st. I know this month will be hard. I know too that I am feeling pressure because I haven’t accomplished what I had already hoped now that we’re barreling towards the mid point of the year. But there is also a lot to look forward to and a summer that we’re all excited for. Life is good! It’s hard as hell, but it’s also good. And we’re making sure that we enjoy every bit of this Spring.
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We didn’t mean to spend only 3 hours in Philly, but last weekend was one of those weekends where we tried to be spontaneous – but failed rather spectacularly. Mark and the girls had never been to Philly before, and while I did travel there for business on 2 occasions in the last 18 months, it was a typical business trip in that I spent all day in meetings. I saw the city through the backseat windows of cabs, but remember making mental notes of wanting to stop at all sorts of places.
It’s pretty remarkable that the city is a mere 2 hour drive away from NY. The kids felt a bit disoriented after we got out of the car because we usually step out into the country, the suburbs or small towns after a 2 hour car ride, not another big city with tall buildings and busy streets. The first place we headed after parking the car was Reading Terminal Market because, well, food. The thing about places like the Reading Terminal for me is that I love the bustling liveliness of it all (that’s sort of a nice way of saying, heeeyy long lines and overcrowded aisles), but I’m often completely overwhelmed to the point of being rendered useless in making any kind of food decisions. The appeal of something like the Reading Terminal is that there are so many choices and everyone can satisfy their own particular cravings, but that also potentially means getting on four different lines. The kids have to eat though, so most of the focus is spent on getting food for them. Do you know that feeling when you’re hosting an event and you’re running around making sure that everyone else is happy and taken care of that you just sort of forget to eat, but then regret after it’s over that you didn’t have enough of the amazing food you served? Yeah. Adding to the overall chaos, I was dealing with a pretty bad emergency at work so was pretty much glued to my phone and didn’t end up eating anything at all.
After lunch we headed down to Independence Hall to look at the Liberty Bell. Fifth graders have been studying American History all year, so the girls were pretty into it. Except…we saw this huge line snaking through the park and down the block as we approached the area where the bell is. This is completely the result of my ignorance but I thought the bell was more open and we could simply stroll up to it. In our attempt to be “spontaneous” we did zero research and neglected to find out that there is a security process involved. At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, nobody in our family wanted to wait in line. We did, however, walk to the end of the park and saw most of the bell from a distance through the plexiglass enclosure from the fence.
“What are all those people waiting in line for when you can just walk over here and see the bell through the glass!”, I overheard an older gentleman say. I’m feeling you, man, I’m feeling you.
We continued to meander our way in and out of the historic buildings and gardens surrounding Independence Hall. The girls were complaining about the heat though (it was 80 degrees which was a rather big, sudden jump in temperature) and the long distances we’d been walking so far. Our parking meter was soon up by that time anyway so we made the long walk back to the car to drive and explore a different neighborhood. When the walk took much longer than we anticipated, we split up and Mark sprinted to get to the car in time while I looked for an ice cream shop for the girls.
While waiting to pay for cones at a shop I get a call from Mark. “I got a ticket. For parking 8 inches into a handicap spot. It wasn’t very well marked and there was nothing marking the curb.”
“Ugh,” I say. “How much is the ticket?”
At that point, we were tired and felt defeated and after a quick poll in the car, decided that we all just wanted to go home. As we were driving towards the highway, we drove through the cutest neighborhood and while we wanted to stop and have a coffee in a quaint cafe somewhere and pop into some shops, the thought of trying to find parking and paying the city of Philadelphia any more parking money put us in a decidedly grumpy mood. So we left Philly the way I left during my last trip there – seeing the city through the window of a car.
It took the entire ride home through heavy traffic to shake off the mood we were in. Mark went as far as saying he didn’t know if he wanted to go there again, which is silly of course because we’ll give Philly another try, but I’ll admit it was a relief to drive down our block and be home. Settled in with takeout food from some of our favorite neighborhood joints and big slices of leftover birthday cake, all was well again.
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