A cold front ran though this weekend. I called home and asked my father about what to do about our water heater on the balcony. We were fretting about sub-zero temperatures and frozen pipes, but instead we got clear, white sun. We met some new friends, the parent’s of Hugo’s playmate. Together we drank coffee and ate muffins, and went through that awkward dance of saying, so what do you do, what part of France are you from, oh really! How lovely! And trying to find meaning in that, and I think we managed. The kids ran around, chased the cat, and jumped on the coffee table and we half-heatedly tried to pretend that that sort of thing doesn’t always happen. Then we all wrapped up in scarves and coats and put on hats and went out to the playground, and it wasn’t so bad if you stood in the sun.
The next day, we took our little family to Century Park. We went by subway, as in the days leading up to Chinese New Year taxis are scarce and the roads are half empty. The air was cool but fresh, the smudge of PM2 particles washed away by the cooler temperatures and the annual factory closures. We walked down the sidewalks, emptier than usual, past pedestrians carrying red boxes of nuts and fruit. Down to the underground and the trains were full of young couples with suitcases and weary middle aged men with jute sacks, all starting the long journey home for the holidays. I sat next to a middle aged woman. She admired my baby, and pulled out her phone to show me her grand son, about two, dressed in a bear suit. She made baby faces at Lyra, who smiled back, big and gummy.
Rolf and I walked with the kids, and it was lovely and clear. We stopped and watched a skateboarder, and made a selfie with a crowd of eager middle school students. The kids ran ahead, chased one another, laughed, and threw a frisbee until they cried, it’s mine! no mine! and snatched, and shoved, and the stronger one won and big tears rolled down small cheeks. We stopped to admire some yellow blossoms that had already pushed out on bare branches despite the cold, and then continued on. But it was close to lunch, and the kids were hungry. I was worried that Lyra would wake and need to nurse immediately, we quickened our pace. Hugo wouldn’t zip his jacket and his hands were red with cold. We were farther away from lunch than we thought. That damed frisbee, more tears. Hugo climbed into his stroller and screamed and screamed and screamed. Still, the sky so blue and the air so fresh, and we carried on. And I though, this is exactly right. This is perfect and worth everything, all of it, even the hard bits, because this is life and everything belongs.