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Nieces' Christmas dance pageant!

Monday 12/11/23

My mom babysat my nephew and two nieces the other night, and when she was putting Amelia--who turns four next month--to bed, Amelia asked if they could FaceTime "my buddy." My mom said, no, because it was nine o'clock Eastern time and I was probably asleep, to which a dubious Amelia replied, "He not asleep," and my mom was like, "Yeah, he probably actually is." Instead, Amelia went downstairs, retrieved my mom's phone, and looked for pictures of me, and said, "That's my buddy!" each time she found one. Cute.

Yesterday she and her big sister, Lilah, had their Christmas dance pageant at the place which I think is basically the Lake Bluff community center. Amelia has been talking about this for some time. She always wants to wear her leotard to places, and isn't able to, so yesterday, with the green light, she was in her dance ensemble at 7:30 in the morning. Like her uncle, she gets up early. She picks out her clothes, dresses herself, and starts her day.

I'm sure my ten-year-old nephew, Charlie, wasn't thrilled about having to sit through fifteen dancing acts, or whatever it was, but he's a good kid and a good brother. He's also about the only person--most of my publishers have certainly never done it--who makes any attempt to promote my work. He took a book of mine to school for some project, he tells people when one is coming out, and he was telling my mom recently that he was impressed--he's big into sports--that I wrote for Sports Illustrated. I have no idea how he knew that. He's thoughtful. Amelia, being Amelia--the word "headstrong" probably doesn't quite cover it--may flat out tell him to go away, but he takes it all in stride and is very sweet with her, despite her, shall we say, idiosyncrasies. It is because of the latter, in part, that Amelia and myself are buddies.

Amelia looks up to Lilah, who is an impressive little girl at seven. She seems very self-possessed to me. My life right now--this hell I am in--precludes anything save working, creating, fighting, running stairs so as not to have a heart attack because of all that I must endure so that I may ultimately triumph--and my relationship with these kids comes down to cards, letters, me keeping up from afar, FaceTime conversations.

It's not what I want. Nothing right now is what I want. It is all hell--worse than hell. But that's how it is. And how it will be until it's not. In the future, I want something different--less from afar. I want these kids to be able to come and visit me in Rockport, for us to do things, for me to give to them in different ways what I have to give. I don't know if I'm going to have children (probably not, because art is everything to me, and it is really all that I care about, everything that I am). I take the care of myself that I do so that as I sit here on this morning I am hopefully not yet halfway through life. And a year for me is a millenium for someone else. I'm open to so much. But whether I have children or whether I don't, what I said above still goes with these particular three children.

Lilah has done gymnastics for a while now, and she's pretty enthusiastic about it. She works on it at home. She went first with her group of girls. Amelia followed later. During the middle of that performance, she departed the stage to apparently ask my sister where her other grandmother was, and then returned to finish up, no problem, which is pretty on-brand, I'd say, for Amelia.


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