(mini) travelogue: cambridge

On Monday, a last hurrah before the official start to the fall, we took a little trip up to Cambridge. The Planetarium for the menfolk; me and Z. to Harvard Square for browsing and chit chat. We’d meet up later for an early dinner at Koreana before heading back home, to make ready for the week. 

It was warm, humid. Z. and I were a bit sluggish. But the day was bright and expectations ran high. 

We stopped at an art supply store for tiny animals and notebooks, and to ogle the beautiful handmade papers. What a thrill to think of all the letters that one could write and receive! The endless possibilities of the stories that could be told across distances, word by word, inked by a loving hand.

Today, I resist the urge to hoard papers. I also resist the siren call of the glitter jars, although I am tempted, briefly, by a jar filled with tiny glitter tubes. In the end, my inner 12-year-old is led away, but not before documenting the glitterporn:

Once we part, we take the T to Harvard Square, Z. and me. The shoe store is disappointing, so we decide that a snack will lift our spirits. We escape the heat for a few minutes and drink fruit smoothies and Z. has the sweetest little pink donut. It’s hard to see in this photo, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you it was adorable. If I could have, I would have covered it with glitter and preserved it forever. That’s how cute. 

At the table, Z. tells me about the game she plays online with her friends. “We’re such dorks,” she says, with a certain amount of pride.

I am struck by how beautiful she is, how quickly it all happened. Surely, I had only looked away for a moment. 

We pass the afternoon easily, comfortably. We duck in and out of clothing stores. I wait while she tries on a skirt or a pair of pants.

There are whole families wandering around today: parents confused and tired as they stumble behind their children, who stride ahead, wide-eyed, expectant.

In a few short years, this will be us, and I wonder where we will be. I tell Z. that we will visit as many places as we can. I want her to see other parts of the country - the pacific northwest, the midwest, the desert, the south - before she makes a decision on where to go to college. I want her to know that the country is big and beautiful and she can always come back here, to the neurotic, bookish northeast that she knows.

She wants to study art, and I tell her that I will make plans, find the schools - we will go to Chicago next spring, the west coast next summer. More cities in the fall, as many as we can fit in. She says, “I like that this is how your tiger mother comes out.” Her saying this makes me happy and proud for reasons I don’t quite understand.

We meet up with the menfolk in the late afternoon and convene for our Korean feast. Our family has all sorts of dietary issues - one vegetarian, one who eats almost exclusively meat, one with a handful of food allergies. I take particular delight in the fact that we can all be happy in a Korean restaurant. Bulgogi and chapchae for Z. and W; bibimbap for M. and me. I imagine my Korean ancestors watching us with pride. 

W. tells us about the planetarium. “We flew through a star that exploded!” he shouts, gesturing with his arms. 

We leave the restaurant happy, full and sleepy.

Back at home, there is laundry to be done, dishes in the sink. We have lists of supplies to gather up for school. We need to sync up all our calendars, review the week’s commitments. Phone calls to be made.

But for the moment, as we make our way back to our car, we have this sense of peace, of satisfaction. The ease of being in each other’s company. I will hold on to this for as long as I can.