It’s a gray morning in the East Village. I had to wait until 10:30 for my parking space to become legal. I’ve parked where I will pick up my son later tonight. Meanwhile, I have a full day and evening planned in mid-town and then Soho.
This morning, I forgot the pants I had washed out to wear to this evening’s event – left them sitting in the dryer. One exit before the bridge to Manhattan, I had to turn around and go back home. “Mommy, I’m gonna be late for camp,” my son complained. “Don’t worry, honey, we have plenty of time.” Got the pants, and took local streets back to the bridge to avoid parkway traffic. Got him to camp on time.
Had to sit in the car for half an hour waiting for my perfect parking space to become legal. Spent the time on the phone with my friend, ruminating on how to take the high road in some challenging business interactions. We both agreed on a good strategy. He was also sitting in his parking space waiting on it to become legal, when someone hit his car pulling into the space in front of him. I heard him exchanging angry words with the man, then get back on the line with me, “I guess we’ll talk more a little later.” “OK,” I said, and then he hung up.
(Sigh) Gray Tuesday morning in New York City.
The East Village. Not what it used to be. I crave its simpler essence as I remember it from decades ago. I stop at a shack-like add-on to the outside of a Mexican restaurant. I need something savory. They make homemade empanadas and Bustelo coffee. I opt for a turkey, eggs and cheese sandwich.
As I’m waiting, I realize I have no cash. I must walk to the next avenue to my bank, and come back again. They keep my sandwich warm for me in the meantime.
The man who was sipping his coffee by the stand is still there when I return, his cup now half empty. “Bustelo,” I say. “It’s rocket fuel.” And he nods, smiling, and we share a laugh. He says, “They say it helps protect you from the sun. Bad for your stomach, good for your skin.” We laugh again. “Maybe I should rub it on my arms,” I say.
On the way to the subway uptown, I walk past my bank. Again. Then, I pass an impossible number of new looking bars/restaurants crammed onto 2nd Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets. I wonder, how can they all stay in business? Where are all the regular people eating? Where are they living?
Last night I had to get tough with my son, who is actively fulfilling his job requirements as an 8-year-old by forcefully pushing against boundaries at every turn. I find I must train him like a puppy. Good behavior gets rewards. Bad behavior gets scolding and other negative reinforcement. Very simple. He reminds me of myself at that age. Actively attempting to rationalize his way out of every situation he doesn’t like. I will teach him the concept of accepting personal responsibility for his choices if it’s the last thing I do. It’s like trying to break a wild horse.
I wake up tired from sad dreams, feeling the heavy burden of parental responsibility on my shoulders. But he seems to have learned the words, if not the full lesson… he says, “I shouldn’t speak sarcastically to my mom.” We’ll see.
In the meantime, I think of the scores of people I’ll interact with between now and tonight, when I pick him up. I ache with love and compassion for him. I’m still learning the same lessons I’m teaching him. I hear the voices of my past very loudly today, whispering to me from memories of my dreams, the moody songs on my i-pod, the puddles in the streets and the slow, regular steps I take down the block to my building, to my office, up the elevator, across the hall, to my desk, my chair, my computer, to get another day started, readying myself for another burst of my future, approaching quickly.
Photo courtesy of unit25