Inspired by SouleMama.
As an adult, I have enjoyed bike rides with each person in my family-of-origin, independent of one another. This is not a goal I realized I had ’til it was accomplished.
I’m from a project-based family. We like to do things, collect experiences, learn, examine, uncover, understand. And we like bikes!
I remember being a little thing and my paternal grandfather’s adult-sized tricycle. The sound of bike tires bumping over a boardwalk’s wooden slats. Family mythology has it that same tricycle once ran over my mother’s foot, by accident.
I recall the thick, this-might-be-chemical-y-dangerous smell of grease and seeing bikes in bits in my back yard, old chains soaking in a pickle tub, waiting to be scrubbed silver.
My Strawberry Shortcake Big Wheel; the red tricycle belonging to a neighborhood kid that we’d zip around on like it was a scooter ’til our backs ached; the pretty, blue Columbia that was stolen from my front porch, gone possibly a long time before I noticed. Barreling down broke-up concrete sidewalks from 8th Avenue to 7th, back around to 8th, no adult accompanying me because, as long I stuck to the sidewalk, no need. Learning that freedom can be bought at Toys-R-Us and sized up when my legs grew too long.
Place to place, and person to person. Child to sibling to parent.
There’s nothing like that early love, or the connections it offers. The relationships it helps sustain.
As it often happens, one of the most beautiful and magical moments of my life has no accompanying photo.
It’s a gorgeous summer evening. Campus in Rhode Island that I’ve grown to know twice, through the eyes and experiences of a sweet/funny/gentle friend and a dynamic/gorgeous/brainy cousin. This time I’m here for the cousin. Round bulbs are strung, or maybe they’re string-lights. There’s a wide swarth of soft lawn, slightly wet, mite-bit muddy.
People are everywhere. Many younger than me, some older. I feel them more than see/hear them. There’s expectation, joy, excitement.
With my cousin, mother, and aunt, I’m crossing in front of a band on a stage. My slip-on shoes are off. We’re headed somewhere, perhaps to tables to sit. But first we’re going to dance.
Three of us women, traipsing across the lawn. Cakewalking. Skipping, dancing. Perhaps people notice us, perhaps they don’t. For me the world is just us three, the misty night sky, the music. Planet spinning under foot.
The moment was just that – a moment. And, for me, an eternity of joy.
Following a brief, surprise illness and non-shocking snowstorm of tiny, icy flakes, we finally trekked down to Jersey to visit my partner’s family and mine to celebrate the winter holidays.
Some years the holidays are boisterous and busy. There doesn’t seem enough time to fit everyone in.
Other years, quiet. Dinner is skillfully and thoughtfully prepared. A life-long holiday with many traditions is distilled to the heart of its elements. People are missed. Presents cheerfully opened. Tea served.
Some stories are so good, a person trips over herself trying to tell them. How to begin?
With my mother and her newly acquired electric keyboard? How she surprised me with an affirmative to my inquiry, asked slightly in jest: hey, Ma, want to do Ladies Rock Camp with me this spring?
With the brief essays we wrote for our applications, mining our memories for favorite musicians and artistic influences (me: Stevie Wonder; mom: Yanni.)
With forty-plus women, in support of girls, signed up for a three-day rock and roll bootcamp? With Girls Rock Campaign Boston, bursting on the scene in 2010, educating girls ages eight to seventeen in the ways of music and self-empowerment.
The story, on paper or on screen, holds more than I can give words to. More nerve. More verve. More vulnerabilities. More inspiration. More risk-taking. More generosity. More skill. More dancing. More surprises. More support.
So I’m not going to attempt to tell this tale linear. Here are some impressions. Here are some photos. Here is a challenge for you to sign yourself up (or your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend), and find out. Tell your own story.
However this thing begins, you can be sure it ends with gratitude.
Oh. And a video. Rocking out to Maids of Mayhem!
For years I’ve been telling my mother, “It doesn’t matter when you come to visit, there’s always something going on in Boston. There’s always something to see or do* and, in the summer, a festival every weekend.”
Still, it was mighty convenient that the 2013 Harvard Square Chocolate Festival coincided with my mother’s birthday visit. We arrived late on the plaza in front of Crema Café and neighboring shops, so we scored only tiny slices of chocolate cake baked by Legal Seafoods from the actual festival part of the event.
From there we explored a hat shop and headphone shop, paid an adoring visit to Bob Slate Stationer, where my partner, mother and I had to battle strong urges to over-purchase. (Pens + notebooks + office goods = squee!!) Finally, we joined up with good friends for a chocolate lover’s afternoon tea at Upstairs on the Square. Although we didn’t eat as much as we could have, we did end the day with so. much. chocolate.
(*Boston’s enormous collection of summer and winter markets explode the possibilities of what a person could get up to any day of the week, all year long.)
June: the busiest month.
I don’t often hear strong opinions about June. July steals the show, surely, and then August breaks hearts as it drags unwilling captives back to school, work, and that breakneck sprint to winter.
May, at least, is the month of graduations and a holiday that celebrates both fallen service members and the start of Grill Season. But June . . . June. Wait. Where’d it go?
Listening to my partner’s band, the Clear Deigns, at the Milky Way Lounge (that’s him with the guitar!)
Exploring Great Brook Farm State Park
Browsing a library book sale
Pre-birthday celebration with my family
On a weekend trip to New York City with my Jersey family, it struck me that the reason I find the city so excruciatingly overwhelming is not that there are so many souls eeking it out in one place, it’s that each and every one of those souls is important.
I am bowled flat by the knowledge I will never know or touch 99.9% (not an exact figure) of the people in that city. We will all live and die, never the wiser, never moved by one another’s presence on this planet.
And then, once my family had departed back to Jersey, I wandered a two block radius around Penn Station (which took me thirty minutes), and walked down one street (or was it an Ave?) where the buildings might as well have been the sides of a concrete canyon. Not a tree in sight. Not one green thing. The only reminder of the planet, besides the humans robotically walking past, was the sky. I looked up and it was like, Whoa! How’d you get there? I forgot about you.
Still, I learned a few new things on this trip:
I do not love New York City, but I admit I’m learning to appreciate.
Whew! Back to Boston.