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Monday 9/11/23

I am equally fond, of course, of my nephew and my two nieces--whose names occur in "Best Present Ever" near the end--but Amelia, the youngest at three-years-old, is someone who once would have been described as being after my own heart.

She is...let us say...quirky. Some might say weird, but good weird. I knew before I met her, from all that I'd learned about her, that I was going to like her a lot. She's her own person and I hope that she always stays that way. It's hard to stay your own person as you get older. But right now, she's very much Amelia. She gets up before everyone at like five in the morning, gets dressed, and starts her day--the way you're supposed to do it!

I had never Facetimed--I've only done it thrice now--until she insisted on it when she was out here and we were sitting on the couch together at the Admiral and the Captain's and she wanted to talk to Grammie (my mom).

She sounds a little like Donald Duck--Amelia--when she talks right now, and she burbles with enthusiasm, unless she's just not having it, in which case, she'll let you know in very clear terms.

She has no problem telling you where it's at. She wanted to watch Thomas the Train, for instance, and I asked if I might watch it with her, and she flatly said no. "You go. I watch."

She's particular in who she likes. She also doesn't like to have her photo taken. There are all of these shots of her looking away, looking glum, and occasionally contemptuous. I also don't like people to take my photo, unless there's a very specific reason. If I take a photo of me, it's pretty much to chart physical health via outward appearance.

We were on the Swan Boats and my sister told Amelia to look at her because she wanted to take a selfie of all of us, and Amelia absolutely refused to do this and looked away. Then my sister told me to look at her and I did the same, and when she objected I said Amelia wasn't getting in trouble so why should I? Amelia and I are tight like that.

She is starting ballet this week and she's so smart that having seen me in my Boston Ballet shirt the other day when she was at Grammy's and we FaceTimed, she saw a photo of me in that shirt later and said, "That Colin ballet shirt."

She often doesn't bother with verbs, having her own verbal style. When the adults were all doing their thing at a big table on the deck at the Admiral and the Captain's, I was off to the side with Amelia, sitting on a bench with her standing next to me. She pretended to cut my hair, going "cut cut cut cut cut cut," then threw her arms around my neck and gave me a big kiss.

This kid doesn't just like anyone for the hell of it. She also throws hands with minimal prompting. My mom was telling me that they were looking at a book of photos, and they came to one in high school, and my mom asked Amelia, "Who's that?" and Amelia goes, "Colin!" and then kissed the photo. (Also not a bad thing that a high school photo of me was instantly recognizable as me to a three-year-old.)

We were in the Prudential mall--or whatever it's called--for lunch on their visit and were heading back out to Boylston Street. The two older kids--Charlie and Lilah--took the escalator, and then my sister got on it as well with the stroller, leaving me and Amelia at the top.

I don't like escalators. I never have. I've always been predisposed to stairs--I may just not have known exactly how much. I'm just going to put this out there and let it say whatever it says: I'm not awesome at timing escalators in terms of getting on. There. It's out in the open now.

When I was a kid, my mom and me were at JC Penny's or something like at Downtown Crossing. We had to get on the escalator, and I couldn't time it. Down she went without me, and I thought, once she moved out of view, that that was that. I was on my own in this life.

A kindly woman saw what had happened--and surely that I was freaking out--and took me down to my mom waiting at the bottom. But I've never been good at timing it. Were it possible to have stairs in your blood, I would be that person. Stairs forever!

Amelia also doesn't like escalators. She turned and look up at me as if to say, "What on earth are we doing to do now?"

I said, "We'll take the stairs--stairs are much better anyway," and she put one hand on the railing, and her other hand in my hand, and very slowly, but steadily, we went down the stairs together.

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