good morning ~
(click the link / beautiful sunset to listen)
this morning's track is particularly gentle, another recording where deleting everything you started with was the right way to go
playing at the famous venue tubby's in kingston tomorrow at what very well may be my last set of the year - hope to see some of y'all
My niece has a cell phone and knows how to use it. Every time I wake up in San Francisco I have half a dozen notifications from her. "What's the plan?" she says, a horrifyingly adult question that reminds me of my own and her parents' personalities. She's better and more communicative while texting than a lot of folks I know.
The last time I wake up from a nap I have four missed FaceTime calls - she wants to come over and "see our hotel" which is funny because we're crashing at a friend's apartment which she has visited many times before. Sure, she probably wants to hang out with us, and apparently she still has an interest in our luggage and toiletries (something that really fascinated her when we hung out in Germany), but it's pretty obvious that she wants to play around with the 65 pound teddy bear that lives in the apartment. Never really got a clear answer on why the teddy bear is there, taking up the entire main bedroom - something about microdosing? Obviously it's a delightful thing for a seven year old. I text her back, "oh yeah, you can come help us pack" to which she immediately responds "can you come pick me up?"
It feels eerily similar to texting with just another one of my buddies which of course leads me to wonder if she's acting more like an adult or we're all acting like children (it is both).
But on the two block walk from her apartment to our apartment, she tells me how she couldn't do the walk alone because she wouldn't know where to go, how she's never ridden a bike unsupervised. I ask her about her bedtime and am amazed to hear that it's usually 7:30pm, but she makes sure to let me know in detail about the handful of times she's stayed up past 10pm.
I realize that she has entered an interesting new phase. The last time we hung out one-on-one, she really seemed to enjoy being a little rascal, harboring little secrets and undisclosed rituals. It was as if she had just discovered the fact that she could withhold things from other people. I took her to a diner one morning where she enthusiastically ordered hot chocolate but then fixated on the whipped cream which she kind of grossly swished around in her mouth, never actually drinking the chocolate itself. Weird little guy! I kept trying to ask her what the deal was but she'd just smile and laugh to herself, then I walked her to school.
Now she seems to be much more interested in chatty disclosure. She savors having a topic to riff on and seems to really want to make sure that she's being understood. "A sleepover is when you go to your friend's house and stay there for the night" is exactly the type of thing she'll say lately. She works diligently to bring you into the conversation and make sure you know what's going on. She's got a keen ear for cadences and rhythms and one liners, too, and will say things like "let's get outta here!" like she's Bugs Bunny or something.
She's also gotten impressively good at the accordion - her phrasing is quite musical now, actually, even though when her parents ask her to play me a tune or two she rolls her eyes.
One thing she really can't wrap her head around is the fact that Gracelee and I live together but we are not married. Every time we visit her, she inevitably embarks on this line of questioning. So, you guys are boyfwiend and girlfwiend, right? Yes, that's correct. And you live in the same house? Yes, you should come visit! But...you're not mawwied? No, we're not married. And you sleep in the same bed????
This is always so amusing to me because my niece is growing up in San Francisco and has a diverse group of friends and classmates of every conceivable background. She has no problem navigating people's pronouns or their multiple mothers or their physical differences and will even correct her older family members on how to refer to someone. It's important to her that things are done correctly and accurately - she doesn't let much slide - and beautifully she seems really compelled by how people choose to be and be known. She has a real sense of fairness and kindness and respect for self-determination. She also recently got asked to be someone's girlfriend - a classmate of hers sent her a note describing her eyes as sparkling pools, complete with evocative drawings of the two of them. My niece is not interested - apparently this person eats boogers, and when she went to tell them that she thought that was really gross, their response was a baffling "thank you." But aren't repulsion and interest and bafflement all kind of linked? Isn't it better to be gross than boring?
All of this and for some reason our arrangement perplexes her. Maybe she just realizes that she can get a good chuckle out of us by repeating this line of questioning.
This time I straight up ask her if she thinks we should get married. She replies authoritatively with another adult phrase she seems to have downloaded from the ether: yes, you're cute together. We all laugh and smile and continue down the block.
When we get to where we're going she runs inside to play with her friend, it's urgent. Her friend's dad tells us oh, wow, she's forgotten all about you already which pierces my heart but when we see him later at my sister-in-law's birthday party he and his wife tell us that my niece kept saying that her uncle was sooooo young while giving them a precise rundown of what her family is like, no detail spared. Everyone we talk to adores her. I have the urge to text her but realize as I look out on the sparkling lights below Coit Tower that it is long past her bedtime.
But what about you? Do you give everyone enough context? Who do you know that's growing up unbelievably fast? Are you a weird little guy, harboring rituals?