The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

June 3, 2005

On Memorial Day

Originally posted to Diary-X

On Memorial Day, John and I decided it was time for the annual beautification of our miniscule back deck. We drove over to our neighborhood garden store and ambled among the outdoor shelves in the sunlight, choosing the perfect white and lavender impatiens for our railing trough and a few bright-red geraniums for our hanging pot. The place was crowded, and we waited in line with two gay men holding a huge stone fountain, sunglassed yuppies with slats of gerbera daisies and pansies, and older couples grasping carts of ornamental trees and ivy. Everyone seemed very happy, and how could they not be? Sunshine, dogs and kids and puddles from the hoses, mild air, flowers everywhere.

Back home, we crouched on our deck, with its view of apartment buildings and the top tips of the Golden Arches and a blue smidge of Lake Michigan, digging our hands in the new dirt and planting our flowers. John scrubbed all the pigeon crap off the wooden floor. We set up the trough on the railing and hung the geranium pot. Now we just need to bring up our deck chairs from storage, and voila—our tiny patch of urban summer living is ready to go.

It was a good weekend. John and I kicked it off with our first babysitting stint—we watched our neighbors’ seven-month-old baby girl, who is nicknamed Sly. Her parents were dying for a dinner out, and we were happy to lend an (inexperienced) hand. Observations:

--It is hard to refrain from using my “talking to dogs” voice with babies. (“Do you like your dinner? Do you? Do you? Oh, such a good girl!”)
--Babies in sleep sacks are insanely adorable. It’s a baby in a bag. So. Cute.
--A seven-month-old can have a surprisingly firm grip when she wants to feed herself that spinach-and-oatmeal dinner combo.
--Good God, but it takes forever to feed a baby. With every spoonful that goes in, about half comes back out, and then must be wiped from the chin and cheeks and spooned back in… rinse, repeat.
--Diapers nowadays do not have band-aid–like adhesive strips like the diapers I put on my Cabbage Patch Kids in 1984. Instead they have some sort of magic velcro that doesn’t actually look like velcro. Imagine how long it took a 29-year-old and a 30-year-old to figure this out. No, longer than that.
--A baby head pressed against your cheek is a really nice feeling.

Anyway, Sly went to sleep around 7:15, at which point we gorged on homemade ravioli and watched The Office Special while watching our friends’ cat play in a box. Good times.

On Saturday, one of my dearest college friends and her husband came for a visit, having successfully deposited their 19-month-old at his parents’ house in the suburbs. We started drinking at 3:30 and headed downtown for dinner at 7:00, returning in a few hours to pick up with the drinking again. Many bottles of merlot and shiraz (“It tastes… musty… at the back of my throat. Sort of like dust.” “I’d say you’re a Malbec-spert!”) were consumed, new words for the Oxford English Dictionary were invented, the merits of soft porn were discussed in detail. I love my friends.

Sunday was a wine hangover and breakfast out and the new Star Wars movie. Monday was flower shopping and freelancing and then, biking ten miles round-trip down to Navy Pier, where I’ve never been before because it is a-swarm with tourists. So many tourists! But it was a fun, holiday-ish place to wander around, and the views of the skyline from there are awe-inspiring. We soaked up the sun and breathed in the wafting scent of elephant ears and stopped for burgers and beers at a tavern, which did slow the bike ride home a bit, but nevertheless was the perfectly right choice.

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