Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Email From My Dad: A New Car

Hi everyone,

Sometimes the universe acts as if it has an independent intelligence. Tonight Phylis and I went to the Borgata for dinner. Over Phylis' objection, I decided to take my car. She felt that since the wipers didn't work and it was raining lightly with the forecast calling for heavy rainfall, it made more sense to take her car. I like the comfort of my Lexus, though, and the Borgata is only minutes away.

We arrived unscathed. I dropped her off at the front door and went to park in the surface parking lot. After a successful parking, I opened my door to get out and a hurricane wind blew the door back and off the hinges. It made a horrible noise. The door was absolutely ruined; it would not close. I knew it was the end.

Earlier this week the key had broken off while I was taking it out of the ignition. I ignored this sign of deterioration since we had another key, although it took some time to figure out how to get the broken key out. I could not and cannot ignore this obvious sign. I need a new car.

In any case, I drove the car home, holding the crippled door partially closed against gale force winds (no exaggeration), picked up Phylis' car and went back to the Borgata. The question of whose car to get rid of is solved. Now all we have to figure out is what new car to get.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Toddler Time, Defiance, and Lessons Learned

We hid the eggs only three days ago, but I'm feeling nostalgic for Easter--for the leisure, specifically, all those unstructured hours traipsing around the neighborhood, guided by my toddler's tiny hand. I rarely, if ever, allow myself to lapse into "toddler time," a dangerous space of irresponsibility and glee, yet when I do I feel lightened in a way that feels instructive.

On most days, toddler time mandates inconvenience. Walking late into daycare, say, Ella will stop for an entire minute to inspect a pebble.

"Pebble," she'll say, pointing. "Pebble, pebble, pebble..."

And so on, until I yank her arm away.

Or perhaps we'll be crossing 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, hand-in-hand, and Ella will stop, look up to me, and say, "Hug?"

If I'm not careful, I might lose tens of minutes in this zone of pebbles and hugs. Prying Ella's lank little arms from my neck, I find myself late to another appointment, another task unaccomplished, the day creeping to its inexorable reckoning, the moment, after dinner, when I survey the dirty dishes, my marriage, and feel deeply my life with its preposterous flaws.

On Sunday, I lost myself for hours in toddler time, in what W.G. Sebald calls "a childlike mood of craving marvels," lazing about in the morning and afternoon with my wife and mother and daughter, hiding and hunting eggs, stopping only for hugs, and little conversations, and sips of green tea.

When we arrived at Easter dinner, hours later, I was relaxed in a way that felt elemental, as if massaged to the bone, drugged on my own blood.