‘Isla, do you like America?’
‘I love it.’
‘Mumma used to live here.’
‘Where? In the toilet?’
We were in the bathroom. Although, she can be sarcastic, too. Not her fault.
And I should say Isla and Neil were in the bathroom. I can’t even fit myself in most accessible stalls, let alone go with my kid, so Neil was on bathroom trips while we were in NY.
They were in the bathroom and I was enjoying an iced cinnamon hazelnut latte from Toast. (And my coffee order never has more than four words in it, so I’m assuming you’ll keep reading/we can still be friends.)
It was the first Monday of our trip. Everyone got up at 5 am and went in search of breakfast hours later. By the time I was sitting there with my coffee it was 10, but felt like lunch.
We couldn’t find bagels on our first day, so had to have Lobster Eggs Benedict. It’s a hard life, being on vacation.
We were going to meet Mom’s knitting club. Because that’s a real thing. But we went to a toy-store first. Obviously.
I told Isla that if she bought something every day, we wouldn’t be able to fit everything in the cases.
Somewhere between the board games and the giant fluffy things, I overhear this conversation:
‘Daddy, will this toy fit in the yuggage?’
‘I don’t think so, Isla.’
‘Oh. We’ll throw some clothes out so it fits.’
My resourceful girl.
We head to Mom’s knitting group. I’ve since dubbed some of them The Golden Girls and decided I want to be like them when I grow up. Without the knitting part.
Neil, Isla and I went up to order brightly-coloured drinks, and we got the first question.
The question that would kinda become the theme and light relief of our trip.
‘Are you Irish?’
‘I’m not, and neither are they, no.’ I fielded first.
We carried our drinks over and one of Mom’s friends gave Isla a scary-looking doll that’s a cross between Barbie and Gumbi.
My kid is not a doll kinda person. She said thank you and then turned to me and asked, ‘What do I do with it, Mumma?’
‘I don’t know. Brush her hair or something.’
And she goes over to sit next to Mom and says, ‘Look Nana, Flatty.’ And so, that was the doll’s name. Except Ls are the only letter Isla has trouble with and we got some interesting looks.
When we got back to the hotel, we moved into another room. Even in this one I couldn’t get the chair all the way through the bathroom door, but I was able to grab the counter and walk along. The accessible room would be available on Thursday.
That night we had pizza and ice-cream with a friend of mine from Jr High. She has a five year-old and Isla is three and
we are old it was trippy. Isla ‘sounds like Peppa Pig’ but it’s all good and I could cry. And then I do.
It’s nice to be known.
Tuesday is a new day. And the coffee machine in the hotel room actually makes good coffee.
Now. Stick with me here. Tuesday we spend the day with my Dad’s barber and his wife. This dude cut my hair when I was Isla’s age. And that not-so-random-Tuesday he would cut Isla’s hair. Joe and Dianne visited us two years ago, and they’re basically family now.
We got out of the car at their house, and honest truth, my front wheel fell off. I like to think it was from excitement. Or something. We had drinks outside while Joe looked for a spare bolt somewhere. Within a half an hour, I was on wheels again.
It’s nice to be known.
We went to Joe’s shop. Isla was first in the chair.
Then Neil. Then Joe turns to me.
‘And what shall we do with you?’
Now. We’d been there three days. I hadn’t had a proper shower. I was convinced I still smelt like the stale air of the plane. My hair had crossed the line from frizzy to brillo pad. And. This doesn’t happen often. But I was embarrassed. But I knew I needed help.
‘Maybe just a wash?’
And so, I sat in the same chair I did when I was a kid. This time I didn’t need to sit on the phonebook, too.
In the spirit of the day, I got a haircut, too.
The vacation truly started.
We all trooped back to the house. Where I had red wine. That never happens. Except on vacation. Apparently. We ate too much and laughed a lot. But still not enough.
Isla got tomatoes from their garden and I got and a sunburn in the shape of the scalloped shoulders of my top.
I was on vacation, after all.
Also published on Medium.