Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love and Barbecue (and Farm Animals and Block Parties)

If you saw my post yesterday, you know that this August saw me reflecting a lot on last August, specifically mine and Peyton's trip to the city. Over the Summer I had several special moments where we visited places that we had visited on that trip or experienced things we'd experienced on the trip and it just stirred up a lot of emotion. We've done plenty of things here that we also did on the trip- Central library, the Brooklyn Flea, the farmer's market. None of it has seemed terribly special, so I'm not sure why these things did. Maybe it's just because I was more focused on it, being that our trip was exactly a year ago. Maybe I've been extra sentimental about the city lately, realizing more fully has short our time here really will be. Or maybe these just really were very special memories from last year and now I've created new special ones this year. 

Nearly a year ago- last August- Peyton and I sat at these outdoor tables under the sign and looked out, a bit enchanted, at the area of sectioned off street with tables and trees; the gorgeous architecture; and the lively and charming people who passed by. That day, we had taken our first breaths in Kings County. We had been to the Brooklyn Flea and the Farmers' Market at Fort Greene Park. We tentatively said we very much loved it. And little did we know, it was the slow beginning of giving our hearts to a place. It was good to be back there several weeks ago, sitting in the street and eating BBQ, with the other two people I love most in the world.

I mentioned this in my post yesterday, but our co-op has a block party each Summer and it's one of the things that sold us on the neighborhood. Of course we had no idea we'd actually wind up living in the co-op and actually participating in the thing. It was just a good taste of the dynamic of the neighborhood. Well, this year's rolled around and it was great to be part of the party instead of just an observer. It reminded me of all the things I love about Clinton Hill- its diversity, its laid back vibe, its lack of pretension, and it exuberance

When we were here looking at neighborhoods during the trip, I teared up little when we saw this playground because I knew Graves would love the farm theme. It took us this long to get back there, but some things haven't changed a bit with sweet Bud. 

It's so incredible to see these things from the perspective I have now! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Big Collection of Flashbacks: New Reflections on Memories from Our Trip Last August

I'm a huge fan of looking back over old pictures, old tweets, old blog posts. Back in the day before there was Timehop, I'd do it manually from time to time just for my own enjoyment. I'd go back and look at what I blogged about on this day to years ago or what I tweeted or whatever. Obviously, Timehop simplified things (if you don't know about it, it's a service that compiles your records from various social media sites and then presents you with all that happened on those sites on that specific day over the past few years). 

Well, last month I experienced a first with Timehop. That is, I was consciously anticipating and looking forward to a specific week. I was looking forward to seeing all my old statuses from mine and Peyton's exploratory trip to New York last August to try to zero in on a neighborhood. 

And I was right, it was so much fun to look back. Here are just a few of my favorites! 

As I said, I had been anticipating this week in Timehop for awhile. Last year at this time, we were enjoying our first day of a search which would determine which New York neighborhood we'd call home for a season of our lives. That trip was the first real indication I could do just that- call this place home. A little teary looking back.

 This was a block party we stumbled up on put by the co-op we now live in. The music was SUPER loud and we totally thought the co-op was the projects. In other words, we were terrified. But we met some of the sweetest families and it was a distinct event that solidified our love for Clinton Hill. Peyton took off the following Saturday this year specifically for the party. 

Actually, it probably would have been a fine place to live. But we were naive and fearful. Which is what sometimes happens when you're a tiny, very privileged white girl from the Mississippi suburbs whose body has been trained to tense up when she walks down a block where ninety five percent of the people look different from her. I'm so glad I'll never be her again.

There are some things about the city that I doubt will ever change- I still don't trust Graves on a platform without a stroller, a carrier, or an extra parent. And Times Square still gives me a headache and makes me feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin.

...and tree lined Brooklyn blocks still make me smile and slow my pace a bit.

The initial caption read: "He told me that when he went exploring by himself last night he put $20 between a homeless couple who were asleep and snuggling at the subway stop because he just thought they were so sweet. I cried. I hope I'm tough enough for this city (and good enough for this man)." These days, Peyton just packs extra snacks for the homeless or gives them groceries he's just bought for himself/us. These days I've learned that living here isn't so much about being tough, really. I'm glad I'm tender because I think I'm rewarded for it by seeing things here that sometimes other people don't. It takes a lot out of me to process some of the things I've seen here, but it's overwhelmingly worth it. I don't know that I'm always good enough for Peyton. I'm sure I'm not, really. More infrequently probably, he isn't good enough for me. That's everyone everywhere, though. I'm glad for forgiveness and commitment, to be sure. And really, we've been better to each other this year than any other our marriage has seen. 

It was surreal to look back on these little snapshots of a one week adventure and see what insight I had into them after a seven month adventure. Clearly, a lot has changed. Some things have remained the same. That trip was so special and it was just a glimpse into our life here. I'm thankful for both- the initial experiences as a visitor in the city and the experiences where I've become, in some ways, a part of it. More importantly, the experiences where it's become a part of me. Because those will last forever in my heart (and most likely on Timehop as well, Lord willing). 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sun Scorched Pavement and the Beauty of a Brooklyn Summer

  • Back near the end of June I posted about Summer in the city. Here it is September first and I feel like I need to write at least once more about something that's been such a special season of my life. Even if I say the exact same thing in different words, it's itching to come out. 

The above photograph is one of my absolute favorites from New York, one of my favorites ever, really. I have a good feeling it will be sitting, framed, somewhere in our home long after the little boy and girl in it cease to live there. 

It's sort of the quintessential urban children picture to me. Little children enjoying a steamy day, playing in a gushing fire hydrant on the sun-scorched pavement of our city streets. And at a block party no less. Feels like something from yesteryear. I'll treasure it always. 

And I'll treasure this Summer itself always. It's been different from any other time in my life. So many happy memories have been made in the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Planned outings to parades and street fairs and festivals and often even better just stumbling upon of someone's block party, or drumline performance, or mural painting celebration complete with Spanish music and food. 

That day, back in May, when we found ourselves passing a college graduation. I vividly remember a small framed, older Middle Eastern woman- covered head to toe as is her culture's tradition- and wearing the brightest smile of anyone I've ever seen holding a diploma. 

The notably too infrequent trips to the public pool where the ladies sort of smiled because we didn't bring locks and wore tennis shoes and asked questions about how to work the mandatory pre-entry showers. The free lunches they were so awfully insistent on providing our pretty obviously middle class kids. 

The Sunday morning bus rides with all the older ladies in hats and heels. 

All the nights when I'd click on the national news right before going to bed and watch apprehensively, hoping nothing truly terrible would happen, from a place far away (and a position for away) as night would fall on a midwestern town and people would try to sort through their sadness and anger and fears. Ferguson belongs on this list because I doubt I will ever reflect deeply on this Summer without it coming to mind. It's bittersweet and the only only sweetness is in the hope I have that tomorrow can be better for our brothers and sisters of color. 

The afternoon we discovered the different playgrounds at the Brooklyn piers and the kids got so dirty there was absolutely no way to get all the stains out of their clothes and for the very first time I literally gave not one teeny tiny damn. 

The stupidly amazing, given that it was eighties hair band music, Broadway show with Claire and the freezing cold Five Guys we ate at afterwards. 

Every minute we spent with my mom showing her the streets and nooks and corners of the city we love.

  • The almost weekly visits to Coney Island for fair rides and fireworks and cotton candy and other silliness. The putting to bed of our small, sandy, salty, Coney Island-encrusted children on a pallet on the floor because it's 1:30 AM and we just were not going to bathe them.

The three people who live in this little eight hundred square foot space with me, a handful of others that we've befriended through various venues, and truthfully the eight point three million people that make this place what it is. 

All of that has combined to make this past Summer in Brooklyn beautiful and a time in my life I'll never forget.