I sometimes wonder at how much of what I experience is inborn and unmitigated, and how much is metered by the observed predilections of the people I love. Is that what it means to be human, our idiosyncrasies jangling against our inheritances? Do some of us hang truer to ourselves and others look out on the world from the covert of our parents’ tastes and interests? For my part, no small measure of the happinesses I find in life entails the anticipation of the pleased reactions of my parents. Provincial and immature as that may sound, my stake in their joy does not necessarily represent inferior footing. There is something profound in imagining my own wonderment at the stars seen from the backyard of the home we rented in Quogue earlier this year — unobscured by the smog of this-city-that-still-moves — bearing a direct and invisible line to that of my father, and his father, and his father, who might have looked upon the same net of stars from Frosolone, Italy one night one hundred and fifty years ago with the same posture of quiet veneration that I saw on my father’s face when we would hike up to Weller Lake or Grizzly Reservoir outside of Aspen, Colorado and pitch a tent all of those summers of my youth. Did I intuitively know to awe at this majesty or was it my father’s reverent silence, standing with his hands on his hips, looking up, the mirror of the lake reflecting the incandescence of the celestial in his face?
I am now too a parent, hyper-aware of the fact that little rabbits have big ears. An errant dismissal or a vigorous enthusiasm shapes the outlook of my vigilant children. When my daughter opens a gift, I hear an echo of my own voice and intonation: “oh my gooodnessss!” The same drop in emphasis on the “my,” the same drag on the “neeesss.” It is a carbon copy of my own girlish glee at opening gifts — my own self living in her — and I know that I must have pre-dispositioned her in this way. It is strange to think of the share of her that is mine and the share of her that is her own: the small but mighty soul born intact three and a half years ago that morning in Chicago that felt more spacewalk than earthbound, my emotions surging beyond their holsters, the entire day uncircumscribed, outside, too much, as though the force of her landing there in my arms had displaced everything.
So maybe there is give and take between the generations. Maybe I afford her my glee in small gifts and pumpkin-shaped waffles and bats on the windows for Halloween and the harbinger-like appearance of a cardinal on a branch of a tree in Central Park just off the Jackie O. Reservoir — and maybe she extends back the generosity of her little voice calling down the corridor as she skitters out the door for school: “goodbye mama, goodbye Hill, goodbye Tilly, goodbye apartment,” as though our home is a member of our family, a living space to be acknowledged and celebrated, which, of course, upon reflection, it is. Will I ever think of this apartment without remembering the 21 days I spent isolated in it during this unbearable pandemic? How it saved us, became our cocoon? How it felt to walk back and forth in my son’s tiny nursery when he was still small enough to be rocked to sleep in those final days of caring for a newborn? How I know that when I am old and gray I will still remember him burrowing into my arms, happy and warm, as I rested my back against the slats of his crib at the ungodly hour of three or four in the morning?
This exchange, then, is the stuff of family, the warming of hands around the same fires that comforted generations past, and the refraction of light back. I have always wondered about what is either diffused or passed on from one generation to the next, but it seems that the flow is not one-directional after all. I find reverberations of my daughter in the way I now ferret out families in the most animate of objects — say, a cluster of acorns, with two small and two large. “That’s mama, dada, Hill, and Emory,” she’d say, and so she has returned to me something from my youth: the symmetry of life, the reduction of all things into what is legible through the prism of her parochial world. And maybe me standing under the canopy of stars in Quogue earlier this summer and finding myself immediately transported to the edge of Weller Lake, the sky similarly uncottoned from the city smog to which I had grown accustomed as a child, was not only a mirror of my father’s awe and my imitation of it at the impressionable age of seven, but a shadow of the way my great-grandfather might have leaned back, his hands on his hips, on some midnight Molisano excursion, the Apennines not so far from the Rockies after all.
+Related: a few of you asked after the sneakers mini was wearing in a few Instastory photos from our trip to Fishkill Farms to go apple picking last weekend — they are these Vejas! I had to indulge my downtown girl with some cool kicks for school.
+Currently lusting after one of these Emerson Fry blouses — sort of like the fall equivalent of the blockprint dresses we all wore all summer.
+Minnow just released a knitwear collection — love this sweet crewneck sweater in the perfect shade of blue.
+Speaking of the perfect blue, eyeing this “blanket scarf” in the chic blue colorway — would look great against camel, gray, or ivory.
+A great everyday turtleneck dress to pair with flats or chic boots.
+Dreaming of a pair of these cozy ribbed leggings.
+Who has tried these Dudley Stevens fleece turtlenecks? I feel like I’ve seen so many ads for them but don’t know anyone who has worn them IRL.
+This Target find! Such a chic piece — the shape and pulls resemble something from Bungalow5.