Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11th

A year ago today, Ben's mom Cindy died. These kinds of anniversaries seem to arrive both riddled with emotions of their own and loaded with quiet wonderings about how the day ought to feel.

For weeks we've talked about what we want to do to celebrate her -- a venti americano, extra hot seems a natural choice. The sunset at the beach. Maybe blueberry pancakes at the iHop in Huntington beach. These were things she loved.

This morning under a low cloudy sky, the children started Sound of Music camp (more about that later in the week), and Ben and I drove to LA to see the Street Art exhibit at the Geffen. As we drove, we talked to his dad, brothers and sister, each call a sinker on the line to steady the day. Before the museum opened, we walked around Santee alley, which felt like being in a different country all together, and, as Cindy would have, we walked with our Starbucks cups in hand. I bargained for a couple of bags, which Cindy would have been proud of, and then we walked back to the car.

We had a ticket.
One of Ben's LEAST favorite things ever is a ticket of any sort. No one likes them, but for Ben they seem -- despite their cause -- to defile his very sense of justice and freedom.
He hates tickets.
The worst part about this ticket is that it was a picky ticket -- his front tire was just beyond the red curb -- and was his fault.
I watched his whole body slump and his demeanor edge from deflation to anger as we pushed through downtown toward the museum.
No one said much as he navigated on his blackberry.
When we arrived, we couldn't figure out where to park -- an $18 lot? a $7 garage -- but where is the museum from here? a 1 hour meter -- not enough time? a $4/hr meter? We circled and circled and finally parked a few blocks from the museum but somehow were under it and still needed to find our way to the door.
As soon as we walked up to the ticket booth, we knew we were in the wrong place.
I felt Ben sink a little deeper.
We said less.
Rather than winding our way back to the car and fighting for another spot, we left the car and walked the mile or so. The day had grown sunny and a breeze swept up the street into our faces as we walked. And walked. And walked in shoes not really made for walking. I, wearing a linen dress and sandals, began to sweat and knew Ben must be dripping in his work clothes. He didn't complain. But though our hands brushed as we walked, we were walking alone.

Finally, Little Tokyo and the museum. The space was expansive and told the long story of street art. Glass cases held graffiti artists' sketch books -- page after page of intricate marker drawings, enormous murals covered entire warehouse walls, and a whole room was dedicated to Banksy, my favorite commentator.

Somehow stepping into the streets, into art that was too big even to read, that spilled onto the floor and redefined buses and buildings, tipped the morning.

When we climbed back into the car, Ben made his necessary transition into work mode, typing away on his blackberry. But his eyes weren't defeated. Just before I dropped him off, we stopped at Chik-fil-a and he looked at my eyes and filled his whole body again.

A day like this is a hard day.
Tonight we'll take the kids down to the sand and remember Iah together. Ben might even surf, which his mom would have loved to see.

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