August 13, 2010

Travels with Sam

Posted in Children, Family, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:47 am by Liliana

Sam - taking a break in Boston

Sam - taking a break in Boston

Sam and I spent a lot of time together this past week as we drove to Boston to help Mike and Karen move. I was taken aback by how much he has grown and changed this past summer.

I thought I knew everything about my youngest son. But in the tireless activity that has been our lifestyle the past year, I have missed the delicate signs of maturation that take time and close attention to recognize.

Sam drove most of the long way to Boston. Sometimes we listened to music that he loves. He told me stories about old rappers like Tupac and 50 Cent. Sometimes I told him family stories about people he never met. Sometimes we talked about history, war, the Russians, Napoleon, Stalin, Pat Tillman. Sometimes we drove in silence.

Sam worked hard helping with the move. Together with Mike he carried heavy furniture, boxes of books, kitchen paraphernalia, computers, suitcases. He spent hours helping Karen assemble IKEA furniture and I watched in wonder as he figured out how those complicated schematics fit together in three dimensional space. He worked with Karen to refinish a desk that has been her grandmothers, and that Mike will be using to work on.

I didn’t know Sam could do all that.

We didn’t just work. We spent hours walking, exploring the city, visiting colleges, eating.

Eating! These are some of the foods we ate: Southern Barbecue, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian. One night Sam ordered two lobsters, ate them both, and then finished Mike’s leftover cheeseburger. He is a growing boy all right.

But what impressed me most is Sam’s generosity. For his birthday last year, Sam got a present he dearly prized – a droid cell phone. He loved that thing, but when Mike asked if he’d be willing to trade with him for his (ordinary) phone, Sam did. He gave it some thought, he struggled to decide, but in the end, he not only gave the phone to Mike, he taught him how to use it.

On the way back to Michigan, Sam and I got stuck in terrible traffic, got lost in Buffalo, experienced rain and bad weather. We argued and got mad at each other because he wanted to drive straight through and I wanted to spend the night at a hotel.

But after we stopped, ate, rested and talked, we were on good terms again. We spent the evening at a tiny movie theater across the street from our hotel – watching Inception for the second time. We both loved it more (and understood it better) than the first time.

We slept through the night, woke up refreshed, had breakfast and got back on the road. Sam drove most of the way home.

August 9, 2010

Moving to Boston

Posted in Children, Food, Travel, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:50 am by Liliana

Mike, Karen and Sam - picnic lunch

Mike, Karen and Sam - picnic lunch

I spent last week moving my oldest son, Mike, and his girlfriend, Karen, to Boston. Sam, my younger son, came along to help.

Mike is starting law school in a week, so we had a lot to do. Mike and Karen drove in Karen’s car – overflowing with suitcases, books, and a delicate side table with long fragile legs. Sam and I drove in our minivan – overflowing with furniture, books, suitcases and who knows what else.

We were a Gypsy caravan.

It takes about fifteen hours to drive from Michigan to Boston, and we hoped to do it in one day. One thing we resolved not to compromise on, though, was food. We decided to make a delicious picnic lunch and have a feast along the way.

And we did. Karen is a wonderful cook and she made a pasta salad with roasted peppers and other seasonal vegetables. In our rush to leave early in the morning, though, we forgot to take it with us. Luckily, we had plenty of other food.

We bought excellent Jewish rye bread and deli meats – salami, turkey and ham to go with it. Ripe avocados as well as lettuce, tomatoes and pickles spiced up the sandwiches. I had made a fresh basil and mozzarella salad ahead of time, and added sliced tomatoes right before we ate.

We also brought plenty of washed, fresh fruit to snack on – Michigan cherries, Michigan blueberries, grapes, apples.

We stopped at a beautiful spot in the New York Hudson Valley, spread out a clean tablecloth and sat in the sun. We had a delicious picnic – ate, drank mineral water, and talked.

Than we packed up, saving the leftovers for later. Rested and refreshed we got ready for the rest of our drive. Boston was waiting.

July 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mike!

Posted in Career, Children, Family, Women tagged , , , , , , , at 9:08 am by Liliana

Mike and Karen

Mike and Karen

Today is Mike’s birthday. My oldest child is turning twenty five.

The year Mike was born, I was twenty five years old.

Jeff was a graduate student at Columbia at the time. I was teaching English at a public high school in Manhattan. We lived in a tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side.

I can never forget the delight I felt when I found out that we were going to have our first baby. I knew he would be a boy, I never had any doubts. We decided on the names early – Michael Steven – after his two grandfathers.

The love I felt for him, even before he was born, was pure joy and it had no beginning and no end. And even before I held him in my arms, we understood each other so deeply, we rarely needed words to communicate.

Mike is moving to Boston in a few weeks, about to start law school. He has a girlfriend he loves and we all love, a Texas girl named Karen who is joining him there.

Jeff and I will be helping the kids move.  Is there some kind of poetic justice in the fact that we are moving them into a tiny studio apartment in the middle of a big city?

Happy Birthday, Mike!