June 20, 2013
The ladies have littered the apartment with evidence of their artistic growth lately. Every morning, I get up to run and move Maggie’s stack of drawings and paintings from the floor so I can stretch. The surface of the
dining room table has watercolors or finger paints stuck to it more days than not. This weekend, Charlotte created portraits of each family member, which we hung in the bedroom—she christened the wall “The Gallery.” I’m documenting it all but have become uneasy about my role observing from the sidelines.
Saturday had a driftwood feel to it that I associate with our life before Charlotte. We took our compost up the greenmarket, partially to relieve the freezer of its load of cage-free eggshells and half-eaten PBJs, and partially in the hope that by being outside something interesting might present itself. It didn’t, so we walked down Flatbush to get hot dogs for lunch. After, our usual loop of the Botanic Garden and afternoon iced coffee. Could it be we were actually bored?
Sunday was Father’s Day, which I always feel a little guilty celebrating. There should be eleven Mother’s Days for every Father’s Day; this 1-to-1 distribution of parental adoration isn’t fair. I started the day with a much-needed, Olmsted-centric run through Prospect Park and back out onto Eastern Parkway. Maggie had written a sweet card for me when I returned, she’s always so good about that. Then, bagels.
We hopped on the subway intending to meander around Dumbo but Maggie called an audible (she insists I’m using this word incorrectly, ha ha #football). We went one stop farther, getting off at Wall Street to explore a part of the city we travel under all the time but never stop to look at.
The financial district is a monument to lots of things, not least a constant process of creation and re-creation. Every time I’m there I struggle to see the history that I know is there somewhere—the place looks pretty young for being 400 years old. I walk along the narrow streets and find it hard to imagine there was ever anything there but gigantic skyscrapers. This is, perhaps, the inevitable price of re-creation. Old buildings get knocked down, leaving few visible traces of what came before.
Still, we had a pretty good time despite being stuck in the 21st century. Charlotte really dug the Lower Manhattan Heliport, where we watched helicopters take off and land for awhile. We kind of had to drag her away, actually. We found a smoothie in Battery Park, took a couple of jokey tourist photos, the usual staycation stuff.
The afternoon ended near Battery Park City, which is to Manhattan neighborhoods what toupees are to real hair. The neighborhood was created by landfilling in a portion of the Hudson River in the 1980s. It looks it. Visually, I find the neighborhood to be dull, flat, and artless; it certainly wasn’t finding its light in Sunday’s high gray sky. Maybe it needs 400 years.
Charlotte woke up just as I was leaving for work on Monday morning. After a quick goodbye and a kiss on the forehead, she grabbed my leg hard and pulled me away from the door. “I want you to come back over here.” The Monday goodbyes get harder and harder. Charlotte and I are such a good team on the weekends.
I spent a good portion of the day worrying about the time I spend away from Charlotte. I want it to be in service of some creative output that is greater than both us. Maybe it is—time will tell and I like what I do.
In the meantime, every surface of our apartment is covered with these things right now. Lately, I look around and don’t see anything of mine in The Gallery and I’m filled with a bit of dread that this particular moment of creativity passed me by—that I’ve been sitting still for too long and only just realized it. It may be time to knock a few buildings down.