I am a single parent with a teenager on the autism spectrum and travel is one of my passions. Travel is a wonderful, educational experience for typical children, and my hunch that Julia would learn and grow with travel experiences was rewarded last summer in Italy. So, I am on a mission to teach Julia about the world—one trip at a time!
Tonight is our last evening here, our last vacation evening for the summer. Five days in Newport is a short vacation but somewhat adequate. I feel separated enough from the regular round to miss it and want to get back into it.
All of that is good.
I missed the latest SCt decision. Checking in on Facebook, I see it is about prayer in schools and that is a soap box I have climbed onto too many times. Not tonight; however, I do look forward to all the Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, wild UU and pagan prayers that will be heard all over the USA in classrooms and on the 50 yard line next year.
Third day here, first time sitting down to write. We done a lot of walking and have seen a few of the big mansions. This morning, Julia wanted to go to a beach, I made a wrong turn and we are at a shell and sand bay beach where she can play with sand a bit. It is warm today. I think it is heading towards hot but it rained most of the day yesterday and the humidity today is very low.
Comparing the vacations that my Facebook connections show—I have a cousin in the Grand Tetons snapping trees and rocky sunsets, a friend whose is traveling in Spain with her family. I note that some of her Madrid photos remind me strongly of Paris, a young friend posting pictures of her wedding and another friend posting her daughter’s wedding pictures. There is such a surfeit of wedding pictures these days. I still marvel at how we are burst at the seems with places and activities.
We are in a diner on E. Houston. Julia eating eggs and sausage and I with a bowl of oatmeal. Why is oatmeal always, at least in my experience, better than it is at home. When I visited Chicago often, I had a favorite breakfast spot, a chain, that had the best oatmeal. What I am having this morning is pretty close. I have opined in the past that it is because they make a very large batch in an old thin metal pot. Commercially oatmeal is made with water and they skimp some on the oats. Or not. It is delicious.
As we eat, a young couple come in with a little girl, I’d say about 18 months old. They are all taller and better looking than we were, except for the little girl, and it is the woman not the man who wears glasses. They remind me of David and Cheshire and I when she was about that young. The little girl walks around as they wait for their breakfast. Dad follows her. The wait staff greet the Dad and girl. We are close to our old neighborhood. We too had a breakfast spot that we frequented—Kiev, which closed a long time ago—and the wait staff—mostly middle aged Ukrainian ladies—entertained Cheshire.
This is a journey of remembering. Not surprising—I have not stayed in Manhattan often since we left when Cheshire was 3.5, and Julia and I have not been to NYC since we moved. This kind of memory walk was a challenge to me years ago—our travels in Italy when there seemed to be a memory and a pain around every corner. Now, there are just memories, and taking back the city a street and restaurant at a time will smooth the wrinkles of that very old life.
It is April and Julia is on second spring break. And we are in NYC.
First off, we’ve been here for 24 hours and Julia has said at least 5 times that she loves this place. Okay, we did have supper last night at the Chinese noodle shop she had picked out on line and we did find two goth/Japanese/anime clothes shops today, but it is noisy, confusing, busy and scruffy. All things that Julia usually doesn’t like. She might be picking up on my own happy feelings—ah, to be in NYC again.
One of my happy dreams when we moved to Boston was to be able to visit NYC for theater, museums and walking around often. Then Covid. This is our first trip here, although we did just pass through last June on our way to Maryland.
“[W]henever well-laid plans are unlaid in an instant . . .”
Melissa Kirsch wrote in the NYTimes two days ago in How We’re Holding It Together: “These lines keep coming back to me — when a long-anticipated trip is shelved indefinitely, when my family decides to postpone gathering for the holidays — whenever well-laid plans are unlaid in an instant”
By the time I read her lines, our holiday plans had already been upended. Julia and I went up to Conway, New Hampshire, as planned, to spend time in the enchanting land of snow with the good company of Justin’s family; however, absent from the gathering were Cheshire and Justin due to positive Covid tests.
Justin who has worked from home for years (and not just since the 2020 shut down), travelled for work for the first time in two years two weeks ago and came home with a bad cold. A take home Covid test the day before we were all to leave for NH was positive and Cheshire followed two days later but only after a P.C.R. test, her rapid test was negative.
I keep my journaling in files month-by-month. It is not as satisfying as the various soft covered writing books that I wrote in and then lined up on book shelves but far more practical and convenient. I still carry a small paper journal but it is for quick jottings that, if I am still interested in hours later, I transcribe to this screen. Where I was once meticulous to finish each journal before moving on to a new one, I am likewise meticulous about keep each month’s scribblings in its own computer file. And so, it is odd for me to still be writing in the August 2021 file on September 3. I know the intent yesterday was consolidate what I had written during our days in Maine and to publish something with the Maine photos, but I could not concentrate on a vacation summary. Descriptions of charming towns and water and sky slipping away into explanations, systems of ideas explaining our present reality. Trying to make sense of my own present “where.”
Friday was the last day of Camp Echo Bridge. Julia has only been at this city day camp for two weeks and I think it has been the best part of her summer. It is an genuinely inclusive experience for her. A very healthy mix of typical and kids with disabilities in the younger groups. Julia’s group—the tigers, clearly a name that was made up by some of the boys—was young people 14+ with disabilities; however, it is a smallish camp and the entire camp does some things together. The staff is careful and caring but most of all enthusiastic.
One glitch: One swim day Julia got bored sitting in the grass reading—she didn’t want to go into the water—and she decided to walk from the lake to the school where the camp meets. She didn’t tell anyone she was doing it and when counselors realized she wasn’t there, I hear there was 10 minutes of panic. I can count on one hand, this time included, the times Julia has wandered off from anything. Staff handled it all well and low keyed. Julia apologized and they asked her not to do it again. I think she was also scared when she didn’t really know how to get back to the school.
On Friday, in the sweltering humid, sunny heat, there was a camp show. Each group did something like a skit (or told jokes) and danced to a pop song. No pressure to perform. Julia was willing to be “on stage” with her group but not willing to stand to dance. And so, she sat while others danced. Later, when the whole camp was “on stage”—two poles with a sheet stretched between them on part of the paved school yard—she did dance. And she loved it.