Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Palms, Pelicans, and Puke




We had been driving straight for eight hours—eight hours—all through the night, with a pathetic nap on the side of the road when we couldn’t keep our eyes lubricated—to get to Ilana’s KlezKamp friend in North Carolina so that his toddler brother could meet her toddler brother and sister.

It was our only stop on the way down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

We were five minutes away from their house—five minutes.

And little Johnny went AAAH!-- and threw up all over his car seat.

And then—count to three—AAAH!—and little Charlie threw up all over her car seat.

I went AAAH!—and pulled over. I looked back at the two of them covered in puke, turned to Sruli, and busted out laughing.

So we spent the first day of our vacation at a local laundromat as I painstakingly stripped down the kids and Sruli painstakingly stripped down the car seats and everything cloth went around and around in the wash.

So the babies are sick. Ilana is sick. Sruli is sick. I am not sick, of course, but I am not eating anything (!) prophylactically.

Oh, and here in Myrtle Beach is the coldest it’s been in ten years.

Yet all in all, not too bad, because the hotel is beautiful, there are loads of palm trees, and we got a suite for insanely cheap (Sruli is a wonder at the internet), there is a ginormous indoor pool complex and the first night I floated down the Lazy River with Johnny on my belly.

Today we saw some pelicans on Murrells Inlet—just like in Nemo, Mommy!

And, on the way to the pelicans, Sruli stopped for not one—but two—bead shops while the babies watched Barney in the car. He sat right outside the parked car on a bench by the door of the shops, waiting for me, playin’ his bones.

Clickety clack clack clack.

The ladies in the shops were all tsihitst—what is that sound? Oh—they peeked through the shades—there seems to be a “gentleman” (they are so gosh-darn polite here in the south) doing something unusual right in front of our store.

Wait, said I blithely, bead shopping all the while, he will also take a solo on the sheep-dog whistle.

Sure enough: Wooo wooo wooo-eee, Clickety, clack, clack, clack.

The ladies stared at me. I found some lovely pink stone hearts to make Ilana earrings. Oh yes, I said, not looking up, I married him and had children with him. We are musicians, you know.

Tomorrow we plan to go to the Aquarium to see the sharks—just like Nemo, Mommy!—and then a major expense—Pirates Voyage which is like Medieval Times only with Pirates.

And meantime, city moms are calling to see if there’s any room left in our Presidents Week Mini-Camp next week. It all seems so far away—this Shabbos, Sruli is the Rabbi again, we have a freylikh Yiddish Dance Day at the JCC and a nice concert in Brooklyn on Sunday.

Yesterday on the lazy river, I decided I am finally going to do it— I’m going to St. Petersburg for my big birthday next year.

One makes momentous decisions when one is on vacation. Momentous decisions and mundane discoveries,

Like sometimes love smells like puke.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nothing But All of Us


I think—I hope—the honeymoon is over, and my Fairy Stepdaughter and the rest of us can start the happily ever after.

The party we had planned for five and a half years, the planning of which had kept us going—and connected-- through the dark ages was, if I say so myself, a smash.

She was radiant in a (oy a shande!) short short black velvet dress with a very elegant beaded d├ęcolletage and high high heels. Her crown, her refulgent hair, curled and luxe.

People came from all over to share the poignancy—her KlezKanada homegirls and boys, school friends, as well as our friends, musicians, artists, professors, Yiddishists—and lawyers-- from Toronto and Boston and Syracuse and Philadelphia and DC.

Her friends spoke about how much they loved her. Aaron likened their siblinghood’s bond to a hydrogen atom or something that couldn’t be broken even by free radicals. Zachary composed a song, which he and Aaron performed.

And, in front of all her Ortho high-school peeps, who sat quietly listening for over an hour, grownup after grownup said she was their hero.

I spoke too, first about Sruli. About the hell and humiliation he went through and about how I wondered why—and how—as he watched every precious thing being taken from him, that he didn’t just jump off a bridge.

And how he was one of the lucky ones. Sruli’s friend from his law school days was there, too. This was the friend who took him in and let Sruli sleep on his couch for two weeks when the judge told him one fine afternoon that he had fifteen minutes to take his stuff from his house and get out. The friend had had the same judge. This friend, a successful tax attorney, looked out at the room. I haven’t seen my kids for six years, he said.

The Angels spoke. The musician angel whose voice broke as he talked about his own broken childhood. He had testified at the trial. The artist angel who provided the safe house on that fateful last night when her mother sent the police looking for her. The lawyer angel who brought her to court and whose passion and smarts are the only reason she is free today. I had to rescue the princess who was trapped in the tower, she said. Indeed.

And Sruli, the real Daddy from this fairy tale spoke and cried. I have never seen him like this and I hope I never will again. It was raw and ecstatic and naked and frightening. He thanked me—which I deserved, hey!—and held his daughter tight as he looked around the room at the village who helped raise his child from the dead.

Then a hora with an all-star band, really, and special sno-cone ices a la New Orleans, and then the DJ rockin’ the house. A party.

At the end of my speech I told everyone how for 6 years-- 5 lawyers, 4 judges, 3 police departments, 2 forensic psychiatrists, 2 court appointed supervisors and 1 multi-millionaire mother conspired to keep one little red-head girl’s life a nightmare until she turned 18.

I told everyone how, on that last night, she was barely one step ahead of the police and the court forensic whom her mother enlisted to forcibly commit her to a mental institution. An institution that would finally cure her of loving us.

I didn’t say how she might never have escaped that institution since the mother would have had complete control over her fate for the rest of her life (“Can you imagine what I had to do to my own daughter” she would say piteously, as her sedated and medicated daughter turned 18, and then 28, and then 38) and that’s what delusion and anger and immaturity and paranoia and a crazed sense of vengeance can do when it has millions to spend.

I told everyone that my fairy stepdaughter had run out without her shoes, her clothes, her stuff, her books, her papers.

She has no more trust fund. She has no money for college.

She has nothing. Except happiness, pride--and all of us.

And—for all of us—for our happily ever after--it is enough.