Isn’t it funny that we both have three kids who are all in the same grades and have often been classmates?
Remember how our youngest ones met in Kindergarten? You laughed when you told me how your son would crow about my daughter’s soccer exploits. He would brag to you about how she had scored ten goals in one game.
Remember the funny story you told me about the assignment they had to write about what they wanted to be when they grew up? I loved how you bubbled over with laughter when you told me your son said he wanted to be a cook so that he could make delicious soup for my daughter.
“And what does she want to be when she grows up?” you asked.
“A lawyer!” he said.
One day my daughter came home from Kindergarten looking a little perturbed.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“There’s a boy in my class and he’s telling everyone we’re going to get married and it’s so embarrassing!”
Of course it turned out that it was your son.
What a silly girl not to realize she had what we all dream of having: someone willing to dedicate his life to our happiness!
You’ve raised such sweet and generous children, my dear friend. They are a beautiful reflection of their mother’s spirit.
It’s late and it’s been a long day. I spent most of it giving travel signatures to students in face masks anxious to get home to their families around the world. I went shopping to stock up on groceries in case there are none the next time I venture to the store. My oldest son stepped off the train this evening at 7:30. Who knows when he’ll get back to New York? Has your son returned home yet? I hope so! Doesn’t it feel good to have everyone together again back in the nest, even though it’s under trying circumstances?
I am sending you lots of love and thinking about what I will write for you tomorrow…
I’ve been trying to remember when we first met…Was it nine or ten years ago when you first moved to Charlottesville from Germany and our boys became friends at school? This is the earliest photo I can find of our two boys together.
They look like they could be brothers…
At elementary school graduation
I think our boys were glad to have each other through their last years at elementary school. Being a non-white student in a rural community with little diversity can be hard. I can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been for your son to go from a German school to an American one. Remember when you told me he never uttered a single word at school and I was shocked, because he never ceased talking at our house? I loved hearing his perfectly unique, lilting Chinese-German accent. Our boys are both sensitive dreamers, who have always marched to the beat of their own drums. Remember how we used to laugh and sigh about their shockingly messy backpacks? And to discover they both never knew what their homework assignments were, and that when they miraculously did manage to complete their homework assignments, they both scrupulously forgot to turn them in? Remember when my boy started to learn Chinese, and we talked about him going with your family to visit China one day? Remember how we discovered they both had a passion for music? We tried (as meddlesome parents are wont to do) to get them to play the piano together. We failed, of course.
I’ve been so glad for your friendship over the years. Like our boys, we have a lot of similarities…Maybe we look like we could be sisters? We both married academics from other countries, and followed them to Charlottesville. But you have always been braver and more resilient than I am. I don’t think I could have made the move from China to the U.S. to Germany and back to the U.S. again with three young children in tow. I have always appreciated and admired your open-hearted spirit. I have always loved hearing your generous laugh. Your friendship has been a treasure to me, especially during these last couple of years, which have been difficult for both us. Many of the things that used to bring me joy (like writing) have fallen by the wayside. I wanted to come visit you this week, but I worried about your health. You told me to stay at home, because you worried about mine. You said, “I have to keep you healthy. I like to read what you write to me.” And so this week I will write for you, my dear friend. More tomorrow…
I just wanted to send you this picture of the primula you brought me when you came to visit us years ago. It’s blooming again in the garden of our third house in Charlottesville, after making the trans-Atlantic voyage wrapped in a tissue in your handbag decades ago, after being transplanted from your garden in Scotland to your garden in Altrincham many, many more years before that. Every year when those faithful little flowers bloom so steadfastly and so generously, it makes me happy to think of you, and all the friends with whom I’ve shared it over the years. I’m sure those little divisions are blooming in gardens all across America right now. I imagine it’s still blooming in the first beautiful garden you planted in Dollar. I picture Colin as a baby in that great big pram, parked like a little prince amidst those flowers. I think of the small miracle that the American daughter of Korean immigrants could fall in love with and marry a boy from a third continent. In these days of “social distancing” and closing borders, the flowers remind me that enduring friendship and love are constants in our lives, even when things seem so unstable, and the world so dark…even when we are so far apart. I think of you both often with love and deepest affection.
I began the year with a trip to Charlotte for the annual reunion of my college roommates…It just so happened that two of our daughters were there for different sports competitions. I was so grateful to my friend, who drove me to my daughter’s four games and even stood out in the freezing cold rain with me to watch a little. Now that‘s truly a good friend!
A few weeks later, our oldest headed back to school in NYC.
I went to New Jersey to visit my sister and her faithful dog Daisy.
Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Maybelline.
My apricot is blooming!
My friend Katherine and I woke up at an ungodly hour to board a 6 am flight to NYC to check in on our kids, who are both studying there…
We stayed in a hotel at Hudson Yards, right next to The Vessel.
Our hotel bathroom must have been three times as large as the one in my son’s apartment…
Teeny tiny sink in my son’s Lilliputian (shared) bathroom.
Brobdingnagian Friday afternoon tea at Alice’s Teacup
On Saturday we went to Chinatown for dim sum and found ourselves wading through huge crowds that had come out for the Chinese New Year parade:
This last Sunday my second son gave a sermon during the youth-led service at our church…
So proud of him. So not ready for him to leave for college next Fall.
Meanwhile, Gingersnap continues her ruthless and devastatingly efficient campaign to conquer the universe with expressions like these…
Why am I down here on the floor when I’m supposed to be enthroned upon your lap?
The other day I had my final phone session with my “Be Well” health coach. This is a well-intentioned employer-sponsored program, which encourages you to scamper on a hamster wheel for a tiny handful of (taxable) hamster pellets. You are supposed to set two goals for the year – a health goal such as: “I will exercise for 30 minutes three times a week,” and a more holistic “fun” goal such as: “I will read three books a month.” My coach and I had been in touch throughout the year. He always seemed to call when I was in the midst of a catastrophic crisis. I suppose this isn’t so surprising, considering the fact that there seemed to be a fresh disaster every other day this year…In any case, he was well aware that I was far from meeting any of the goals we had made together.
“So, obviously I didn’t meet any of the goals I set back when I thought ‘working on music’ was something I was going to have the luxury to do this year. But I helped my sister weather a serious health crisis; I lost my beloved dog; I got diagnosed with cancer; I had two major surgeries; my kids got in a scary car accident on their second day of school, which totaled the car; and my dad is now facing his own serious health issues.”
There was a triumphant quaver in my voice as I concluded my speech: “But I still managed to be productive at work, to take care of my family, and I didn’t fall apart. Given the circumstances, I think that’s far more impressive than expanding my musical repertoire.”
I still didn’t get my handful of hamster pellets.
After a month in the ICU, my sister was finally able to move to rehab. It happened to be on the same weekend I had been planning to be in NYC with my daughter, her quartet buddies, and their moms.
It was a happy reunion with my daughter, whom I hadn’t seen in a month. My son spent the weekend with us too, and helped us navigate the city and transportation.
Evening stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge
At Dear Evan Hansen
By March I was back home…
In like a lion, out like a lamb.
Our sweet dog Tallis had been sick for quite some time. We finally had to say goodbye.
Over spring break, we took a sleeper train to Chicago with our son.
Cloud Gate, “The Bean”
In my parents’ garden
Pre-Easter Hunt Warm-up
Easter Egg Hunt
In May I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Upping her game with Pre-Formal warm-up in high heels.
Middle School graduate
My dear old Dad
Chiles Peach Orchard in Crozet, Virginia
The cat was rechristened Paloma, although she is still mostly called “The Cat.” She still rules the roost with a velvet fist.
In July I had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
My parents came to visit after my first surgery.
We are embracing country life…Shooting a BB gun at…
LaCroix seltzer cans!
Three kids, three sets of braces…
1st day of school
2nd day of school. The car hydroplaned off the road on the way home from school.
We took a pic a day to document her recovery.
Thank goodness for young skin!
My #1 Goalie
Back to work after a couple months off to recuperate after surgery.
I made it to half a century!
Checking in on my New Yorker…
We take Halloween very seriously at work.
Apple picking at Carter Mountain Orchard
Beautiful fall sunrise from my bedroom window
Working on the FAFSA…
After trying and failing to convince my husband to get me a puppy, I finally had to take matters into my own hands.
My husband’s annual Christmas concert with his early music ensemble.
The wolf shall lie down with the lamb…one day?! To date, Chloe continues to ignore Gingersnap’s bouncy puppy overtures with icy disdain.
They say people and their pups often resemble each other…
Christmas with all the cousins in Princeton, NJ
This may have been the best ten minutes of 2019 for me…
On our way home from NJ, we stopped in Philly to check out Drexel.