Today I met my nephew, Dudley. Photos of the little guy have melted my heart since he emerged into the world three months ago. In person, his perfection delights me. He looks at the world wide-eyed, grasping and bouncing with such frequency that all I can assume is, he’s eager to experience the world.
On the walk back to my AirBnB I called my daughter Kaylee. She leaves for Costa Rica tonight to spend a month volunteering at a surf camp. Do you have your passport? I asked. Tampons? Mosquito repellent? I told her she is not to paddle across the river mouth, she must take the ferry. I don’t know much about Costa Rica other than the country is reputed to be safe, friendly and beautiful, and that last week a surfer lost his foot to an crocodile.
This is the eighth AirBnB I’ve stayed in. I used to love hotels, the blank slate-ness of the room, the way the space serves as a vessel for whomever fills it, no history, no future, no clutter. But the more I travel, the more an actual home appeals. Those “homes” have been a sailboat and an RV, as well as a surfy OC spot and this tidy Windsor Terrace studio, and what particularly appeals – besides being able to make breakfast in the morning – is the (perhaps creepy) identification with someone else’s life.
If I studied Japanese and dog training and taught English classes in New York, this is EXACTLY what my apartment would look like.
If I moved to one of the few places in SoCal I could stand, living out of a motor home parked on an organic flower farm is exactly the sweet, eccentric deal I would dream of scoring.
Yes, I could live on a boat in Dana Point Harbor. Being on the water soothes me. I don’t mind walking to the locker room for a shower. But the Sublime poster would have to go. (The popsicles could stay.)
I had my first child when I was 20, my second at 24, my third at 25. Somehow over the years I nonetheless ended up with the life I’d envisioned at 17 (only with less cocaine and without the random sex any ’80s daydream required!). Tons of travel, oodles of beach-time and the unexpected benefit of doing good in the world? GIMME.
Which is to say, I love this freedom, this experimentation with a life that varies week to week. I miss my husband, my kids, my home at the beach in the fog. I note, daily, how my coworkers and our activists inspire me. My good luck blows my mind. (I’m also compelled, while acknowledging the critical role good luck plays, to take credit for earning a place in the world.) I believe in what I do. I have running hot water everywhere I go. Life is amazing. AMAZING.
Even if it is a thousand degrees with a million percent humidity and sweat has dried on my brow and I can’t protect everyone from everything or even reassure them that the future is beautiful because, seriously, who the fuck knows and have you seen the news lately? But what I can say for certain is sunsets remain glorious, New York bagels blow the mind (it’s just flour and water, how can they be so good?!) and a wide-eyed baby aching to take on the world fills my heart even as he melts it with his near-unbearable cuteness.
I am writing this with the # # in the background. Obama. I will miss his oratory prowness, his calm, his quiet rage, his humor. I give him thanks for the Affordable Care Act, a move that ensures my son will not be discriminated against for the pre-existing condition of diabetes. “We’re not a fragile people. We’re not a frightful people. Our power does not come from some self-proclaimed savior… Our power comes from those declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia… the capacity to shape our own destiny.”
To shape our own destiny.
To have adventures.
To say a collective “Hell NO” to those who would stop us and a collective “Fuck YES” to what entices us.
(Forgive the profanity.)
I have a tiny, tall-for-his-age, new nephew.
He is perfect.