I am suddenly fond of hoods on jackets, which is lucky, because last night it spitter-spattered harder than I anticipated on my walk home, a fine mist that steadily turned into a shower before disappearing altogether. I was just tucking my hair under my hood, marveling at how quiet the streets of SoHo were -- it felt like the neighborhood was all dressed up in holiday gear, with no place to go -- when I passed a mother and her pre-teen daughter. Arguing. "Adjust your attitude right now," the mother seethed. I couldn't help it -- I laughed. That line had been a favorite of my dad's when I was a kid.
My parents are fascinating parents. (Fascinating people, too, but that's a different story.) Without getting into too much detail, they both come from non-traditional (for the fifties and sixties) family homes -- one from a single-parent household, one from a twice-divorced household -- and now, as an adult, I glom on to those bits of their childhood, their life, whenever I can, because what they experienced is so incredibly different from the childhood they gave me. I honestly don't know if they made this decision consciously or not, but their mandate as parents has always been very clear: our children come first, and we will break the cycle; we will build a family of best friends.
It's amazing how well they succeeded. I sat at a long makeshift table last week, lined with 25-ish people, my favorites, my flesh, my heart. One of the centerpieces caught fire, and my former-fire-marshall father just laughed. And I thought about attitude adjustments, and how I felt loved and cherished and special just by simply being a part of them, and how that's the only attitude I really need.
Anyway, back to the angry mother-daughter pair in SoHo. Oh, darlings, I know your pain; I remember it well, the way I would pick and pick at my mother's scabs until she would snip at me or, worse, cry. (I am not proud.) It's funny, the way we can get so mad at the people we love most. Like loving them gives us the permission to also hate them, even for just a moment, simultaneously.