Posted on: Tuesday
We walk along the avenue together, you and I. You like to skip ahead sometimes, rushing to see what's in a shop window or around the next corner, or just trying to initiate a game of inner-city chase with me. I smile, letting you wander down the street freely, keeping a close eye on your every move but trusting that you know when to stop and wait for me, and how to stay far enough away from the passing cabs. You know the rules of the sidewalks well and stop on every corner, proudly waiting to take my hand. I wrap my long fingers around your tiny palm and clasp tight, and your whole hand disappears into mine. If you only knew how much I love holding your little hand. If you could only remember forever what it feels like to be so small, to slip your tiny toddler hand into your Mama's as you cross the street..
We walk along the Bowery with its fleets of taxis barreling down the busy avenue and you proudly count them as they zoom by: "One, two, three, four, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, eighteen, nineteen, twenty!" I'm not sure if the taxis are flying by so quickly that you're forced to skip numbers, or if you are making one of your little jokes, counting in a funny way to see if anyone notices, but I sweep you up in my arms and lovingly growl, "That's not how it goes!" and you burst into laughter. We walk further downtown, block by block, pointing out the water towers and the fire escapes, the dogs and the bicycles, and the occasional brightly painted door or colorful piece of street art. You tell me about the book you are "reading", about how you're learning to jump so high you'll be in the sky, and about what you'd like to eat: pancakes. Always pancakes, these days.
We pass an old alleyway and pause for a moment to marvel at it's quiet, dirty, forgotten beauty. "I want to ride my tricycle there!" you exclaim. "Okay, we'll do that Biet, one day," I say. I really do mean it. Lately, I find myself telling you this quite often. Your imagination is developing at an exponential pace, and you often tell me in great detail all of the things you want to make, places you want to go, and adventures you want to embark upon. And as much as I try to make every day magical, I find myself often replying, "One day, baby." One day when the baby's a little bigger, or when your art supplies are out, or when Papa is not at work... one day when we go uptown again, or when the summer comes back, or when your friends come over, or, in this case, when you grow tall enough to reach the pedals of your tricycle. Then we shall come back to this alley, and you can ride.
You approach life with such gusto, such fearlessness, and such enthusiasm. You want to do it all, all of the time. I love that about you. And today- today you want pancakes, and I can do pancakes.
We arrive at the restaurant and find a little bistro table for two right by a big window facing the street. We order pancakes, sparkling water for you, and coffee for me, as per usual. Our conversation from earlier continues, evolving to include our plans and dreams for the future. You want a wall in your room that you can paint on, and I tell you that I think I can make that happen. If your easel is feeling a bit too small, I'm sure we can dedicate an entire wall to your artistic ventures. I mean, why not? We can always repaint it. Our pancakes arrive and we douse them in syrup. Our conversation slows and I sit back quietly, watching my daughter happily eat as the whole world buzzes by outside the window. I've always dreamt of a life that is free, yet structured; unconventional, yet full of tradition. I've always dreamt of a life that mirrored the creative kinetic energy of the city. In this moment, I'm struck by the realization that it's all happening now. Somehow, it's all coming true.
You leave the tip and wave goodbye to the entire restaurant, and we step back out into the brisk winter sunlight. I wonder to myself if you will remember these days that we spend together, walking and talking and dreaming together when you are so small. I hope that you will. You reach up and slip your hand in mine and pull me in the direction of the park. And onwards we go.
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