This morning Charlie and I went to the Bread Lounge, a really cool cafe in downtown L.A. that makes the most amazing breads and pastries and serves some of the best coffee in town. What we love most about the place is that there’s a gigantic window from the seating area into the bakery so we can watch the bread bakers at work—just like at DuPar’s but the ambiance at the Bread Lounge is decidedly different—more of the downtown hipster crowd but not the insufferable Silver Lake Intelligentsia kind (um…no offense—I love going to that place, too!).
As Charlie sat on my lap eating a delicious ricotta danish with chocolate and cranberries, I sipped my perfect latte and we both watched the talented young bakers making biscotti in the massive kitchen. The calming effect of this simple moment on the stored-up adrenaline levels in my brain was palpable. Charlie started making a sculpture out of the crumbs of our danish and I couldn’t help but think how simple life’s true pleasures really are, despite the crazy machinations we put ourselves through about what we think we “need” to be happy. Being me, I was incapable of having that thought without starting to sing right then and there—and not so softly—the opening verse of “It’s a Fine Life” from the musical “Oliver.” In Nancy’s full-on cockney accent, no less:
Small pleasures, small pleasures
Who would deny us these?
Gin toddies—large measures
No skimping if you please!
I rough it, I love it
Life is a game of chance.
I’ll never tire of it
Leading this merry dance…
Charlie is too young to be embarrassed by me yet and I didn’t even pay attention to the stares from the other patrons. I still had the feeling that I described yesterday at Farmers Market where it seemed like we were living in a musical and that everyone at the Bread Lounge, from the young skinny supermodel couple picking up a large box of pastries to the three women in expensive running outfits and shoes drinking double espressos to the young Asian family eating granola and fruit to the freshly scrubbed white t-shirted employees and Israeli owner who was carrying his six-month-old baby in his arms were about to join me in song and launch into a perfectly choreographed dance number.
Am I losing it? Quite possibly. I got a better feel for the healing process my shattered nerves are still going through at our next stop, a Lowe’s Home Improvement store near our house. As Charlie and I walked through the parking lot, a woman was screaming at her husband with intense viciousness. “DON’T YOU EVER LISTEN TO ANYTHING I SAY?!” Apparently he was supposed to meet her at a specific location but wasn’t there and she had just found him dawdling in front of the store. It’s never pleasant hearing strangers screaming at each other but this woman’s twisted face and negative energy hit me like an opposing magnetic field. I scooped Charlie up and made a wide arc around the fighting couple to try and steer clear of whatever ugliness was emanating from them, I just couldn’t be around it. Another symptom of post-traumatic stress?
Charlie spent the rest of the day playing with his fleet of garbage trucks. He’s getting stronger every day but we've noticed that he’s exhibiting a few behavioral changes since his last surgery. Not stuff that we’re all that worried about but I did find myself looking up post-VP shunt surgery stories on the Internet—against my better judgment! Charlie has been stuttering quite a bit since last Monday which I’ve read is quite normal for kids his age, especially boys, and especially after going through a stressful episode. It almost always goes away by itself. He also seems to be way more sensitive to sound and temperature. Until he was in the hospital, Charlie never seemed to mind our barking dogs or ever say he was too hot or cold and now he’s complaining of those things. I’m sure it’s all unrelated to his surgery but what the hell, we’ll mention it to his neurosurgeon who we’re seeing next Thursday. Ugh, I don’t want to become one of those parents who sits with my iPhone in hand googling everything my child says or does to see if there’s something to be concerned about.
I suddenly had a memory of using this title in a blog post so I just looked it up and found this entry from August 11, 2009. Ironically, Charlie was going in for his first VP shunt surgery the very next day, now that he had finally reached the 6 lbs. goal:
…despite the challenging and largely unknown journey that still lies ahead, I can’t help but be giddy with excitement at every step forward Charlie takes. We can really see his personality now and it’s such a sweet one. He seems to have a way of interacting with people that I know will serve him well in his life regardless of any other disabilities he may have…This whole experience has been radically changing my perspectives on achievement, intelligence, and success.
Wow. Thank you, NICU dad from 2009 who just reached forward in time to give comfort to post-PICU dad in 2013! I thought that would only go the other way around!
If you don’t mind having to do without things
It’s a fine life!
And though it ain’t all jolly ol’ pleasure outings
It’s a fine life!
When you’ve got someone to love
You forget your cares and strife.
Let the prudes look down on us
Let the wide world frown on us
IT'S A FINE, FINE LIFE!