On Saturday I went with Ferd to Rockaway, three blocks from the ocean, to walk on the beach and sit on the front porch with my friend Liz. She made us pasta w/roasted and smashed butternut squash and grilled shrimp w/roasted cherry tomatoes and feta and we sipped on seltzer and iced tea and soaked up the sunshine and talked until the sun couldn’t stay up anymore. When Mr. Softee rolled around the corner on the dot of when he always rolls around the corner, Liz’s husband Rob bought us and every kid on the block ice creams and then we went home.
Ferdinand told me he needed to move to Rockaway. He loved the kids and you could run from one yard to the other, and why wouldn’t I move? Why couldn’t I get a job that would buy a house with a yard and a beach? I told him we could visit. “Every day he asked me? Are you going to visit every day? No, you’re not.”
It can be a challenge to have a nine-years-old-and-relentless interrogator in the back seat when you’re fighting one lane traffic on the BQE.
I was as thoughtful and considerate as I could be until I ran out of thoughtful and considerate and then brought back my mother, may she rest in peace: “I’m driving!”
On Sunday we went to my friend Kostas’ in Chappaqua. He had a whole lamb marinated in fresh garlic and lemon and rosemary, turning on a spit. We sat on the back porch and ate and ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. Ferdinand ran from yard to yard, ran through a sprinkler, popped balloons, jumped with 8 on a trampoline meant for 3, looked for eggs in hedges, in the flowers, on the very tip top of the jungle gym, ate delicious food and soul satisfying desserts and grabbed cold sodas from a cooler in an all day chase out the backdoor and in the front.
On the way home he told me if I wanted to know what would make him happy, it was Chappaqua. If I wanted to make him happy, we would move to Chappaqua.
He had done his research before he left. “I asked Kostas if I could move in with him and he said yes. Alexander said he wants a little brother and I was born one day before he was. He’s older than me. I love Jennine.”
“Ferdinand” I told him, “I can’t live in the suburbs. I am a big city girl, a millions of people from every corner of the earth, loads of noise and traffic a booty shake away and hand pulled noodles from the north of China any time of day you want them kind of girl. I need to know I can wear blinking orange headlights draped around my neck with a purple bodysuit underneath and fake roses in my teeth and my neighbors will keep snoozing with their eyes open on the train.”
“I have never seen you wear that.”
“In eight years you can move wherever you want. You can move to Chappaqua or Rockaway and love it like you should, but I’m not moving.”
“On Saturday” he said, “I’m going to put my money in my pocket and stand in the street until somebody gives me a ride.”
The problem is we are cut from the same piece of purple spandex. Getting Ferdinand to do anything but what he’s set his mind to once he’s decided is fruitful like trying to get Lady Liberty to get her left arm up instead of her right. She’s not going to do it.