Out East

I came upon this by surprise.

I've been thinking about how having children has brought me into contact with people, places, and things I wouldn't have experienced on my own. (This is neither an endorsement for or against having children. Merely an observation of my own experience.)

On Friday afternoon, I took Z to see her friend A while their little brothers "competed" in a chess tournament at a local elementary school (it was deliberately not terribly competitive). A's mom, Andrea, is one of my "yoga mom" friends, a group of four of us who met while pregnant more than 10 years ago. She and I were talking to some other women and came upon the topic of how we are much more networked we are as a result of our children (one woman used the term "social capital") and with people we wouldn't have crossed paths with if we stayed in our own circles. Andrea, who is dear to me, is someone I doubt I would ever have known otherwise. Then again, I didn't know most of my neighbors until I had children. So maybe motherhood has just made me more sociable in general -- to protect my young?

Then today, I had occasion to drive all over the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, beginning with Eggshelland in Lyndhurst (more on this in another post), and including taking Z to a bowling party in Wickliffe. Wickliffe is physically not that far from me, but it feels like an entirely different world, and I had to pass through at least two other entirely different worlds to get there. It has totally different demographics  than where I live in Cleveland Heights (and it's smaller) -- it seems to me like a working class, largely Italian (I surmise from my car window) suburb, down at the heels like any place that has depended on industry to thrive. There's a seminary there (and a little research reveals, also a Lithuanian orthodox yeshiva), an Italian-American social club, and strip malls, and empty space. But then turning off of Euclid Ave. into what may really be the hear to of the town, I encounterd the Coulby Mansion, which serves as city hall, and a surrounding park, which are as lovely as anything anywhere.

After I dropped Z, I drove south into several more entirely different worlds. And yet we are all in orbit around the same ragtag city. I am not native here. These places I know some of the history of, but this history is not my history in the in-my-bones, these-are-the-stories-of-my-adolescent-territories kind of history. So many of them are obviously struggling, some to the point of looking like they are losing. There is a lot of desolation as you drive and drive through the suburbs, not that much different that urban desolation, but more spread out. It is fascinating and it is sad. What do these places mean to the people who live there, to the people who used to live there but have moved on to ... where?

And I wonder, why do we keep building out, consuming more farmland, when there are so many empty lots and derelict buildings we could fill in?

Reading: ?

Writing: Yes, and a great meeting with my friend Catherine, who has known this manuscript from the very beginning. So helpful discussion. Nuances and structure both. Oh, and I found another part of a scene I didn't remember writing. (This is getting sort of pathological. Maybe I write in my sleep.)

Dinner: Since I last blogged, there have been several! Notable were the chicken, corn, black bean, pepper, tomato, green onion, rotini salad with creamy lemon dressing. (I crave summer!) This was drawn from a Michelle Urvater recipe, but seriously improvised upon. And tonight, David made spaghetti with a garlic parmesean sauce and lima beans. (I was out on my epic trip through the suburbs and texted him the idea of "garlic parm pasta," thinking just of sauteed garlic and a sprinkling of cheese. He found a recipe for a lovely sauce instead, so it felt much more dressed up.)

Soundtrack: Every once in a while I get on a WKHR 91.5 kick. This is a local "American songbook"/golden memories sort of station - a small, community station broadcast from Bainbridge (another eastern suburb!!). I just happened upon it once a few years ago. Sometimes it is too schmaltzy, but often it features really fun pop-jazz. The other day, I tuned in to a swinging Boots Randolph number, followed by Peggy Lee singing "I Don't Know Enough About You." "Black Coffee" was playing when I started my car later, but I don't know whose version it was.

Random thing: Painted my nails garnet red.