Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Boys, Their Kids, and a Pizza Oven

A couple of weeks ago Team Fishman (moniker brought to you by Jim Calvert) took a little road trip down to Marin County. Let me preface the rest of this paragraph by acknowledging that I love Marin. I grew up there. I have wonderful memories and very dear friends scattered around its hills, and valleys. Nevertheless, if I ever want to feel poorer, fatter, or uglier than I normally do, a few days in Marin will remedy that. It's like Alaska, except instead of giving you money when you move there you get a bicycle, a faster metabolism, and a bunch of coupons for organic lettuce and Cymbalta. Now that I see it as an adult, I'm pretty sure I wasn't just the fattest kid in my school but possibly the whole county.

That being said...I had a great time. The purpose of our visit was to see one of my oldest friends, Paul, and his family who were on their annual visit from England. I met Paul twenty years ago in college. I know - that's like forever. Paul was the first friend I remember actively pursuing - like the women in my life at that point only much more successfully. I went to college late - after a year of travelling and working, so initially I didn't want to have anything to do with the "kids" in my dorm. What got my attention with Paul was the not-so-graceful ways in which he deflected the advances of an annoying co-ed which culminated in him refusing her invitation to lunch by saying, "No thanks. I'm not eating today." Smooth like...
something really not smooth at all.

Paul and I spent the next four years becoming best friends. Together we explored the world of academia when we weren't too busy doing drinking, doing drugs, chasing women, deconstructing reality and going through the occasional monastic phase when we renounced all of those things. Yes - we renounced philosophy, too. After the dorms we moved in with some friends for a year, and then a much better friend for the last two. Jessica taught us how to be roommates and more importantly functional human beings. In return, we put up with her boyfriends. Ultimately, I believe we all thought it was worth it and together, with the help of the Pixies, Crowded House, and Ricky Lee Jones, we created some of the best memories of our young lives. Even today, when I go to Marin I stay with Jessica - she feels like home. Sitting in the living room on this past visit, Paul on one side and Jessica on the other, I couldn't imagine what I would be like without them. I hoped that Amari would one day have friends like mine.

Paul and his wife Robyn have been visiting with their two boys, Max and Isaac, ever since they moved to England a few years ago. Paul met Robyn on one of our European adventures early in our friendship, and their relationship endured the distance between continents, the test of time, and most impressively two children. Even though I see her infrequently, Robyn is one of my favorite people. She's bright, witty, sarcastic, and easy talk to. She strikes that wonderful balance between commentary and condescension, and Robyn - I mean that as the highest compliment. As for Paul, I keep hoping that a giant pharmaceutical company lures him home by opening a small, one room laboratory down the street from my house. It could happen...

The visit was brief  - too brief. It's hard to be away from home with Amari for too long. The highlights in no particular order were:

1. Pizza-poluzza: On Sunday we all met at Steve's house in Bolinas for a pizza party. Steve has a stone pizza oven in his yard and Bodhi has dough connections across the street from his bar. I spent kindergarten through second grade in Bolinas, and although I don't have many memories - save the ones created from photographs or stories my parents told - I did feel the familiar weight of nostalgia as I drove up the Mesa towards Agate Beach. The one memory I know for sure is mine is of that same winding, Eucalyptus-shaded street littered with Monarch butterflies during their mating season.

The pizza party was wonderfully messy and loud. Kids were runningaround in all directions and although she was initially overwhelmed, eventually Amari was crawling about on the flour-covered hardwood making her Godzilla noises and winning the hearts of the two new boys from Britain. By the end of the evening, I was reliving my glory days at Brother's Pizza as I tossed a few rounds of dough in the air and impressed the adults with my impressively circular crusts.

2. The Boys: Max and Isaac are exceptional kids - sweet, polite, and thoughtful. And I don't think it's just because they're British. Both of them were so gentle and loving with Amari and I'm pretty sure she inherited the Anglophile gene from her mother, because within a day she appeared to have crushes on both of them. Lying in the hammock she stared up at Max, her giant, hazel eyes batting their lashes and  asking him to "Say something else in British." Max reciprocated her affection on our walk around Phoenix lake, saying (in a very adorable accent), "I think Amari's the most beautiful baby I've ever seen." Pausing to look around he added, "But don't tell aunt Molly."

Aunt Molly is Paul's sister, and she has a baby boy named Cahir (pronounced Care) who was born six weeks before Amari. He is also adorable and has way more teeth than Amari, but I'm not going to argue with Max's conclusion. It was cute to see Amari interact with Cahir - they would both show momentary interest in each other and then go about their normal, exploratory baby business. This seems to be the standard for Amari. She's much more interested in cats and small children. She did, however, slowly and gently head butt a fellow infant at one of the gatherings, mimicking a sweet bonding thing she has cultivated with Carrie.

3. Amari breaking a tooth: I think that's what it's called. She finally has a little nub to show for all of her agonizing, crying, sleepless nights, and grumpy days. One down, nineteen to go...


Here are a few pictures from our adventure.

Max and Amari recreating "The Kiss" with no kissing

Amari and Cahir share a moment

Isaac, Cahir, and Paul

Dad trying to be artsy

Dad succeeding at being artsy??

Hiking to the very stroller friendly Kent Lake

That's all folks!

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