11 March 2009

Be a good one.

When I told my parents almost a decade ago that I wanted to live in New York, they immediately gave me their full support. There is no endeavor I could face that my two biggest cheerleaders wouldn’t encourage.

I could tell them I wanted to move to the Moon, and they would grab an atlas and open Google’s browser in attempt to help me in any way.

At a friend’s graduation party last year, I was telling a group of middle-aged attendees I just met about how my father was driving with me cross country to make my big trek. A very pompous and pretentious man I had met briefly before, snarled.

“What’d ya have to do to make him do that?” he asked rudely. “Bat your eyelashes and say ‘please Daddy, I love you Daddy?'”

The group of adults laughed.

“Actually, no,” I retorted more directly than I had intended. “He’s my Dad and wanted to help me in anyway he could. He’s driven across the country a half dozen times. I’d be crazy not to have him come with me.”

The group was no longer laughing. They were shifty.

“That’s just what you do as a parent,” I continued, knowing full well this man had a daughter around my age. “You help your children.”

When no one replied, I took it as my cue to go sit on the porch.

Living 3,000 miles away from my parents and brother has been tough. I find that since my move, I gravitate towards parents I’ve met here because I miss that sense of family.

When the entire eastern part of the country was annihilated by one of the heaviest overnight snowfalls last week, New York City was suffering from the ripple affect: Traffic delays turned into power outages which turned into broken water heaters which turned into chaos. The only people excited about the storm were children, who got their first snow day in five years, and Mike Favetta, Brooklyn 12’s highly annoying weather man.

My subway line broke down the day after the storm camouflaged Brooklyn, turning my usual 15 minute trip to Fort Green into a two hour odyssey. Commuters from various down trains were herded like cattle to the only line that was running out of South Brooklyn.

As I took a seat, I noticed the woman next to me had brilliant blue acrylic nails. They matched her brilliant blue acrylic phone cover.

“I just hate this cold,” she says leaning into me, not making eye contact. “It turns everyone crazy.”

She was a stout African American woman with beautiful teeth. The blue tooth headset in her ear was blinking the same color as her nails and phone.

“I don’t really mind it,” I tell her.

“You see my son, LeRoy, he’s a pilot in the Bahamas. I just visited him. They’re having beautiful weather.”

“I can imagine.”

“You should have saw him,” she says, placing her cobalt fingernail on my bundled up knee. “In his pilot uniform. He looked so handsome. I am so proud of him.”

“He must be very brave,” I tell her.

“I told my kids when they were young that they could be whatever they wanted in life—they just had to be good at it.”

I nod.

“Anything,” she reiterates. “Even if they wanted to be a bum.”

I start to laugh.

“I’m serious. As long as they came to my house to shower and eat every once in awhile, if that’s what they wanted to do, and they were good at it, then I would support them.”

“I think that’s wonderful.”

“Well you have to support your kids,” she says. “In everything they do.”

I come to find out later her name is Bernadette.

I’m at that stage in my life where I’m no longer a kid, but I feel too young to be a fully certified adult. I’m truly fortunate to have two people in the world who are my ultimate soundboards during this transition.

In the interim, I am going to be a good one. A good what? I’m not exactly sure. It’s a hell of a mantra to live by, but I’m going to take Bernadette’s word for it.


  1. you know i am a little bummed you left out bernie's best line...

  2. I just love that! Being a bum definitely involves a lot of skills. You gotta be good at it.
    Meghan, I love the things you write about! You are inspiring. Reading this actually made me a tiny bit less terrified of the day I'll become a father. Thank you!