Yes yes yes please zero sleep
Whenever I am in town and don’t have an early morning meeting, I text Kimberly to see if she wants me to pick up her “drink” from Café Grumpy. The order is a roughly estimated half decaf, half caffeinated macchiato to go with a slice of banana bread wrapped in a brown bag for Chloe. It’s been the same now for years and even the barista knows it by heart. For myself, I order a latte and bring my own stainless steel camping mug for them to make it in. There’s a part of me that secretly hopes I’m saving the world by bringing my own cup every morning. Admittedly, a small bit of the world. In the summer, I drink iced latte out of a Mason jar. It has been said that the official start to the fall and summer seasons can be determined by my drink and the container I carry. Well, it has been noted in my small circle anyway.
It’s a six-block walk down 8th Avenue from Café Grumpy to Kimberly’s apartment on 14th Street. Balancing everything in one hand with assistance from my chin, I ring the buzzer to her apartment and head up one flight of stairs. The stairs in her building are covered in grey carpeting but the old wooden bannister tells a story that the building had a more genteel past. The carpeting muffles the creeks and groans of the stairs. There is something so comforting about the sound.
Kimberly and I used to walk every morning at 7:30 AM along the Hudson River. We started seven years ago when she adopted Fanny her adorable mix of everything dog including pit. I wanted to lose weight and Fanny needed to use up some energy. We even walked in 0 degree weather wearing down coats that looked more like sleeping bags. It would take an hour and our conversation was as refreshing as the walk itself. We discussed everything from work, men, cancer, death, aging parents and our aging selves. It was therapy and exercise all wrapped up in a cozy sleeping bag. Since then, Chloe was born and the walk slowly diminished to me delivering coffee. Thank heavens the conversation never stopped.
Last week I arrived to find Chloe sitting in a plastic tub in the middle of the living room carpet. She had overturned a bin holding her socks and climbed in. “Mae, I’m out to sea.” Chloe barely fit in the tub and the socks pooled around her like a school of minnows. Kimberly sat on the couch in an exhausted trance. I handed her the cup of coffee and that’s when I took the photo above. Her hands reminded me of hanging onto a life-preserver. We are both exhausted as the new economy has us working harder and life has grown more complicated for me as I now I have secrets to hide. I collapse on a chair made of rope she has in the corner.
Chloe is four now. She is constantly in motion with non-stop song or conversation. At times she wears a tutu over her pajamas and has modern dance moves that are enviable. Kimberly and I talk around, above and through the constant hum, which is Chloe. The topics are all the same as was discussed on the highway but we have somehow perfected a stop and go cadence that a four-year old in motion will do to a room. Fanny usually sits in front of me pressing her body against my leg in hopes of a massage. When I finally give in, she melts to the floor with a thud. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been away for a week or if I had been there the day before. The conversation continues and for that I am forever grateful.