Page's Turn

Taking Off!

August 26, 2011

My two children are taking their first flight without either parent. Hardly a big deal, I know. Plenty of kids fly solo. And it’s not as if my girls are alone. They have each other. Plus, Peyton is 14, perfectly capable of making her way through an airport. And Katherine, 11, enjoys being in charge.


Flying solo. Just thinking about it gets me all Hallmark-y. They’re off. They’re leaving the nest. They don’t need me anymore. Come to think of it, I’m the one who will be left flying solo. Obviously, they’ll be back, but I can’t seem to stop the waterworks. Is there Botox for tear ducts?


Adding to my pain and suffering, the airline charged an extra $100 for their tickets because they are “unaccompanied minors”  in need of assistance. That, even though I’m walking them directly to the gate for the one hour, non-stop flight. I’m the one who needs assistance.  An in-house shrink would be nice. Or perhaps a pinot grigio? Actually, make that a vodka.


As we wait at the boarding gate, I pace the blue carpet, swallowing the expanding lump in my throat, and text their father, my former husband: “I’m trying not to cry,” I type with my thumb.


“Oh no...try to stay upbeat...we’ll see them in a week and it will be good for K,” he texts back. I’m sure he’s thinking I’m overly hormonal. And he’d probably be right.


I check in with the girls, who are reading their newly purchased magazines: Teen Beat and Teen Vogue. If they are nervous, they’re not revealing much. Wish I could be so calm. Peyton, her hair braided in a single pony tail, is wearing an apricot peasant top, skinny jeans and metallic Jack Rogers. She looks chic. She the teenager she is. “Please don’t cry, Mommy,” Peyton says. “It’s embarrassing.”


Katherine is a full blown tween--neither here nor there. Her blond hair is in pig-tails and she's sporting chipped toe-nail polish the same hue as her pink Old Navy flip-flops. Unlike her sister, she has yet to be self-conscious about attire. She still plays with Barbies, but would never admit that to her friends. And even though she can cross the street alone, I like how she still reaches for my hand. 


When the girls were younger, I constantly complained about sleepless nights, whining, interminable play dates. That’s when older parents would always say, somewhat smugly, I thought, “It goes so fast. Savor every moment.” Now those words don’t seem so trite.  It feels like just yesterday Peyton was pedaling her tricycle down the sidewalk, a grosgrain ribbon clipped in her curly hair.


But those parents were right. It does go so fast--as fast as their plane barreling down the runway, about to take flight.

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Humming along

August 11, 2011

So, it’s August in Georgetown. Not much is happening in my house these days. My children are gone for a week and the silence is both deafening and delightful. It’s the first time in years that I’ve actually been alone for more than a day or two. In the past, when the girls have been away, I’ve filled the void visiting friends or my parents or boyfriend. Frankly, I was probably afraid of being alone for too long. 
But this week has been anything but lonely. I’ve had lots of time to write, get the front door knob fixed, rearrange paintings in the living room, fill out school forms, visit museums (National Gallery and Phillips Collection), see a play (Uncle Vanya at The Kennedy Center), update Angus’s shots, and muck out my house. I’m referring to it as summer cleaning since I obviously skipped the spring one. 
As I go through dog-eared children’s books, deciding what to keep and what to give away, it takes me back. How did I get three copies of Good Night Moon (one in Spanish)?  I find folded onesies and smocked dresses in the attic, hermetically sealed in plastic bins. I usually give the girls’ old clothes to my two god-daughters, but, somehow, these items missed the cut.  And as cliche as it sounds, they are a reminder of how quickly time passes.
The older I get, the faster life accelerates. It’s like a lead foot on the gas pedal. Am I running out of time? Will I accomplish what I want in life? What do I want? What do I want for my children? To be kind, to help others, to have fun, to have faith, to be curious, to be grateful. To notice.
So this time alone has given me pause--literally. Not only am I rearranging the furniture, I’m reassessing my priorities. Some have their Eat-Pray-Love moments trotting across the globe. I’m having mine on P Street.
Earlier this week, after taking pictures for The Georgetown Dish of an out-of-control cab that ended up on the sidewalk near my friend’s house, I turned to walk back toward my house. Shuffling slowly in front of me was a homeless man. He stopped to look at something to his right, then pivoted around in my direction.
Gesturing toward a bed of zinnias, he said, “Now that’s what you should be taking pictures of. Do you see that Hummingbird there?”
“Oh my gosh. Wow!” I said. “You’re right. I’ll see if I can get a picture.” The bird hovered over a hot pink zinnia, it’s needle-like bill poking into the yellow center.
I pointed my iPhone in the direction of the flowers and clicked a few times, but couldn’t see the bird on the screen. The sun’s reflection was too bright. So I just stood and stared.  A few seconds passed before it whirred away in front of us.
“You don’t often see that in the city, do you?” the man said.
“No. No, you don’t. Thanks for pointing it out to me.” 
I got home and discovered the camera had captured the Hummingbird. It was not clear as day, but it was there. Like life, maybe not so clear, but there to be captured, appreciated. And it took a homeless man to help me notice.

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Marissa's bucket list

August 2, 2011

A few days ago I received an email from my friend Marissa Rauch. She’d just finished “Bike to the Beach,” a 108-mile ride from D.C. to Dewey Beach, Delaware, benefiting Autism Speaks.
Marissa, a celebrated photographer, biked in honor of Camille Galli, a friend’s daughter who has autism. While Marissa personally raised nearly $8,000 for Autism Speaks, she also did it, she says, because biking 100 miles was on her bucket list of things to accomplish before turning 50 in November. The date of the ride was also significant--the anniversary of her father’s death.
“It was extremely challenging because of the extreme heat. I had to channel my Dad, begging him to send some clouds to get rid of the oppressive heat,” Marissa wrote. “It was very emotional at times.” 
At one point, with the temperature soaring above 100 degrees, Marissa stopped to help a fellow rider with a flat tire. She said one of the race supervisors asked if she wanted to ride in a van to the next stop, 12 miles way. Marissa declined the offer. “I really felt like it would be a failure not to ride every mile.”
As a cancer survivor and single mother, Marissa knows a thing or two about not giving up.  She’s an example of someone who is living life to its fullest and helping others along the way. “I feel tired, but proud of my accomplishment and what I could do to help the cause, Autism. I loved being on Team Camille and doing it for a very special person to me, Camille Galli.”
Thank you, Marissa, for inspiring us. You’ve certainly raised the bar for all our bucket lists!

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