Sunday, August 7, 2011

30-Day Writing Challenge; Day Three

I am participating in a "30-Day Writing Challenge." This challenge, to find one's voice with words, inspired by Ann Evanston.)

Day Three:

Susan and I had dinner with the newlyweds last night; my daughter, Danielle, and her husband, Mike.

We had dinner with them at their new garden apartment in West Hartford, Connecticut.

It is a charming and cozy place, one block from the town center, which is chock-full of restaurants, art galleries and stores.
We went for a walk along the brick sidewalks, remarking how beautiful the town was at night.

A Gallery Window. Photo by Bruce Barone.
We walked on looking for a pizza store which when we got there had moved to another location, back in the direction from where out short journey began. It was getting warm and we decided to order out for pizzas. Susan, Danielle and I waited near a large state of Noah Webster while Mike went home to get the car.

Noah Webster. Photo by Bruce Barone.

We all remarked how the wedding, which was only six weeks ago seemed far in the past. I thought of how beautiful Danielle looked that day.

Photo by Bruce Barone.
We watched a video of the wedding ceremony and reception; not all of it, mind you, but bits and pieces of it. I got to see myself walk Danielle down the aisle and see myself delivering my toast. I did not cry during these events that day but watching myself and remembering the joy I felt, I cried softly to myself in Danielle's and Mike's new home.

It seems like it was just yesterday that I was taking Danielle (and sometimes her friends) to New York City. She was 10 or 11 or 12 and I was commuting to New York City a few days a week from Western Massachusetts. I worked for a printing company and my clients included Conde Nast, Reader's Digest, Columbia House and others. I would bring Danielle (and Daryl, too) on my  sales calls and then we would go to the Central Park Zoo, MOMA, and the Museum of Natural History.

I wonder how Danielle might remember these trips. Would she write:

"Once every month, during the school year, September through June, my Dad took me to New York City. After his sales calls we would spend the day at the Museum of Modern Art, eating lunch with his friends from college, or walking. He loved to walk. It didn't matter how far we had to go. We hardly ever took a cab. And no matter how tired I got or how much I complained, he said it was good exercise. It was fun and it was more interesting stopping to look in store windows, and sometimes, going in to buy me a gift, a watch from Swatch, a new t-shirt from Niketown. The two of us would leave Northampton early in the morning to catch the train out of Springfield, me with my knapsack filled with books, a walkman--to keep me quiet; my Dad was always saying 'you ask so many questions,' and after he said it I think he felt bad for telling me to be quiet and he'd start talking to me and asking me questions and before you know it we were in Penn Station. On these trips, they were more like adventures, once we even went to the Bronx Zoo and another time we took a tour of Madison Garden, he'd always call me Baby, Baby all the time He said it was the name of an old song. I was ten and he'd always say you'll always be my baby. Dad, I'm not a baby, I'd say. He'd answer you'll always be my baby. In fact, can't you stop right here today forever and I'll hold you in my eye. And then he'd stop talking, smile, and grow quiet for a few minutes and then he'd look at me as if he'd never see me again and say oh forget it I was just being silly. And then we'd be off, walking through Macy's and north on Broadway and sometimes up Eighth Avenue when he was thinking I needed an education about how other people lived far away from the quiet beauty of Park Avenue or steely early morning silence of Sixth Avenue. As soon as we arrived at the Museum of Modern Art, he'd call his friend, Lucy, who was the director of development at the museum. She'd greet us with hugs and kisses and say you just have to let me show you something. Once, it was art by some French woman; pretty strange stuff, stuffed toy animals on the walls, stuffed cloth replicas of body parts hanging from the ceiling. It was a maze you walked through. I didn't really get it but I kind of liked it. Another time it was what looked like dead animals, made of iron, I think, spinning around on a merry-go-round, scraping on the floor making an awful grinding noise and a room showing a video of a clown repeating the joke repeat and pete were sitting on a wall over and over again, strange, but I liked it and I could see that both Lucy and my Dad thought it was important and from the way they talked, exciting, fun even. Another time it was paintings by DeKooning which I really liked. Dad did you see that, in the painting Dad, do you see that? Dad, where's Lucy? She has an appointment . Why, Dad, with who? Baby, baby you ask so many questions. With an artist. Who, Dad. DeKooning. Oh, baby, baby with a photographer, Nan Goldin. For seconds after my Dad spoke I stood there silently thinking, my mind wandering through the rooms of our house back in Northampton, down the halls, along the walls, looking at the paintings, the poems, the photographs and then there it was a photograph of a teenager with army shoes and army pants slouched in a chair, a photo my Dad bought from this Nan Goldin. My Dad said he met her at a bar. She was a bartender at a place called Tin Pan Alley, an artist. Remembering where I was and what my Dad said I asked if we could meet her. Well, I don't know, let's call Lucy, maybe for a second. He kissed me then, once and then again on my head. Let's go. And then we were off my Dad holding my hand now and telling me about this photographer he knew, well not really knew well but met her years ago when he lived in New York City, well not New York City, but Weehawken. and she came to the apartment for dinner, and he said Cara came too, and Maggie, who owned Tin Pan Alley, and Seth and Rebecca, and it was a good dinner, with good wine and good conversation, he said and it was art and there was beauty in the world here in the house...."

I am not sure Danielle (and Daryl) would remember it quite this was. But I am reminded of what my new friend Kathleen Ellis posted online the other day:
“It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” ~Ann Landers
I think we have taught them well.
Now Danielle is teaching her new dog, Bella, a Mini Goldendoodle, well, too!
"Sit, Bella. Sit." And Bella sits.
Bella. Photo by Bruce Barone.

 If you want distinctive nature, documentary or portrait photography--photography with soul that inspires you to live a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.


  1. Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of the time spent with your dad.

    Children, they grow up so fast.

  2. For a Daughter Who Leaves
    by Janice Mirikitani

    "More than gems in my comb box shaped by the
    God of the Sea, I prize you, my daughter. . ."
    Lady Otomo, 8th century, Japan

    A woman weaves
    her daughter's wedding
    slippers that will carry
    her steps into a new life.
    The mother weeps alone
    into her jeweled sewing box
    slips red thread
    around its spool,
    the same she used to stitch
    her daughter's first silk jacket
    embroidered with turtles
    that would bring luck, long life.
    She remembers all the steps
    taken by her daughter's
    unbound quick feet:
    dancing on the stones
    of the yard among yellow
    butterflies and white breasted sparrows.
    And she grew, legs strong
    body long, mind
    Now she captures all eyes
    with her hair combed smooth
    and her hips gently
    swaying like bamboo.
    The woman
    spins her thread
    from the spool of her heart,
    knotted to her daughter's
    wedding slippers.

  3. your post has me crying, bruce, for what is lived in a state of transcience and what is remembered, for a father's love, for time passing so quickly. (could it really be six weeks already?) so much in this piece speaks to me, speaks to how we live. bloody beautiful, bruce. i'm so glad you're opening like this. it is we who get to benefit. well, all of us, i imagine. (you should show your daughter this piece or ask her to write a companion piece to what she remembers. what might we learn of that?)


  4. What a lovely post, Bruce! What beautiful memories you created for both you and Danielle! I would love to read her version of this same story!
    Our children do grow up so seems we do not realize fully the gift we were given until it is grown and gone.
    We are expecting our first grandchild...a early December...and I will take every opportunity possible to remind my daughter how quickly the time will pass and how important it is to teach and train...but love and cherish him!
    Have a beautiful week!
    ;-D Kathleen

  5. (transience for one misspelled word.) erg.



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