Entering Hebrew class required an airportish level of security, owing to the persistence of Judenfeindlichkeit. My class had new students, including a somewhat attractive male in his twenties who worked to strengthen ties between American Jews and Israel, and the somewhat famous octogenarian owner of a somewhat famous specialty food store located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that had once been marred by a scandal in which a salad free of lobster had been sold as lobster salad.
Still, there were very few stories worth telling that involved the Hebrew class. I continued in my studies to make sure that no plots could be hatched against me by my spouse and children of which I would not be aware. But I usually went to a branch of my expensive gym first, and arrived 30 to 45 minutes late to each class.
"!סליחה" I would say as I took my seat, looking at the dry-erase white board covered with grammatical squiggles, as water dripped from my just-showered head.
My language-learning abilities had declined substantially with age, however, and few things seemed to stick. I supposed arriving an hour late for each class wasn't helping. I would also check my smartphone -- the only way I was able to know what time it was -- several times until 21:00 rolled around and we were free to leave, even though I liked the class and the teacher and even my boring and Jewish fellow students. I wasn't sure if they knew that I wasn't one of them. I had said "פסחא" when asked about upcoming holidays back in March.
It was evening, and it was morning.
Carmen (our semimonthly maid-of-all-work and semiweekly assistant child minder) sent us some photos during a bright a cold day. Our son appeared to be having fun.
Our daughter less so.
I had to go to my doctor for an inoculation, owing to paranoia.
I stopped by an Anglican embassy on my way back to the subway.
It seemed out of place in the middle of Manhattan.
I admired some roofing on the lychgate. It was almost Japanese, and I loved things that were Japanese.
It was a beautiful day, and I didn't want to go back to work, where multiple bad things were happening, despite our fancy new office.
It was evening, and it was morning.
I took our son to the park. Early spring was full of so much potential! It was all anticipation and no fruition!
There was already a little Floréal.
Walks, walks, walks, we took. Some parts of my neighborhood were fine.
But sometimes I still missed our grittier former quarter, even though I felt out of place there since I was not skinny nor wearing ironic sunglasses.
The sun was now prominent during the children's bedtime -- a nuclear explosion over New Jersey.
Who could sleep in this light?
Often I didn't eat all day so that I could have a delicious supper to look forward to after the kids went to sleep. Because: what else did I have to look forward to?
Jobim was having a dinner to celebrate his suspiciously quick acquisition of permanent resident status in the United States.
There were many things that were suspicious about Jobim. His perfect American English and complete knowledge of American popular culture were only the beginning. The numbers just didn't add up.
We hired an untested babysitter, since no one we knew was available. We stayed at home until the children were in bed. We then sat in traffic for 45 minutes. We hadn't even arrived at the dinner, and we had already spent $100!
Finally we arrived.
To my surprise, Jobim gave a moving speech about his time in the United States, and Asaph and I were extensively credited.
The speech was a little long, honestly. Other unaffiliated diners started to look uncomfortable.
Later my affluent friend who had sat next to me told Jobim that Asaph and I looked very depressed.
A shop near my new office reminded me of my late and deceased mother.
The first thing my mother had learned to say in French during our trip to Québec in 1984 was thé glacé. She later used this term during our trip to France in 1986, even though this concept did not yet exist in France.
It was evening, and it was morning.
Hop on Pop, I thought.
Our children spent the night at our paid childminder's house in Brooklyn. A photo was sent.
The next day Asaph was hosting a sabbath (שבת) lunch in our apartment. I decided to burn liturgical incense to leave some passive-aggressive Christian residue.
I went to Brooklyn to retrieve the kids. I decided to walk the seven or so miles home. I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, traversed lower Manhattan, and arrived at the great watercourse.
Our son had slept through the first part of the walk, while our daughter had complained and kvetched. Once we got to the large river, they switched roles.
I admired the new developments.
I was by the USS Intrepid (CV-11) and the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York when Asaph called me.
"Everyone is here! Where are you?"
I tried to walk faster.
"Are you observing the omer (עומר)?" asked the French Kabbalist.
I realized I needed to shave and get a haircut.
The Kabbalist doctors -- French and Canadian -- were there, as was our friend Jubal and an Australian companion, and then also our Talmudic scholar friend and his Israeli spouse. The Kabbalists' young son was at the lunch table, while their older son was napping in our room.
I suddenly felt like a jerk about the passive-aggressive Easter festoonments.
It was a pleasant luncheon, although sometimes I didn't understand some of the arcane Judaica. The French Kabbalist and I discussed the rise of l'hostilité manifestées à l'encontre des Juifs en France, overwhelmingly, but not entirely, owing to Muslims. His family, like that of most Tunisian Jews, had chosen France over Israel as a refuge, but now they were having second thoughts.
"The weather is awful in Paris," he said.
I couldn't disagree.
At one point, our daughter ate a piece of bread that had been pre-chewed by the Kabbalists' young son. I was beside myself with horror.
Our son was unconcerned.
Afterwards, we went to my office to pick up my laptop computer. I showed Asaph and the children the cafeteria on the top floor.
"I never eat up here... if I do get lunch I just bring it back to my desk," I said. Of course I usually tried to delay eating until after the children were asleep in the evening, to have something fun to look forward to.
I then took our daughter on a short walk back through our old neighborhood. I paused to take a photo of a shop that would undoubtedly soon be a frozen yogurt or miniature cupcake business.
It was too small to be a bank branch or a drugstore.
The next day I took our daughter to the funeral visitation or calling hours for the father of a colleague. We walked across the park yet again, pausing at a historic landmark still occupied by the rich.
I met up with my co-workers. They were all wearing black dresses; I was not. I was wearing a purple shirt, since purple was a color of mourning and piety and royalty.
The environment at the calling hours was somewhat festive, owing to the presence of several four-year-old boys running around. The bereaved Iberian mother of my colleague was alarmed by my daughter's furrowed brow and stern demeanor. "She is so serious," she said, in a beautiful Castilian accent.
We headed home. The kvetching began. It started to escalate to moderate screeching.
"You are like Godzilla (ゴジラ)!" I bellowed.
It was the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism (יום הזיכרון לחללי מערכות ישראל ולנפגעי פעולות האיבה), so my so-called news feed on a social-networking service filled up with militaristic propaganda images.
It was all very foreign, given my androgynous parental persona.
I couldn't imagine living in a country with compulsory military service. I would have whimpered and whined had I been forced to do such a thing at age 18.
I worried about our children.
The next day was Israeli Independence Day (יום העצמאות), so my so-called news feed was briefly filled with romantic-nationalist images.
Then a terrorist attack by Caucasians in the United States preempted those celebrations.
In my earlier review of old photos on the social-networking service, I had found a surprising image posted by Asaph from a trip that he took to Israel without me several years prior.
I was shocked.
I was so tired of the conflict between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world. It was the same thing over and over and over and over and over again.
I contemplated joining the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Հայ Յեղափոխական Դաշնակցութիւնa).
Armenia deserved a Mediterranean port, I thought.
We took our children to the doctor for more vaccinations. I noticed that a book in the waiting room deviated quite significantly from its source material.
The reading selection in the waiting room was, overall, anxious-making.
The visit ended with the heartbreaking inoculations. Our children screamed and wailed. We comforted them the best we could.
We emerged out into the bright spring day. They started to feel better.
We walked through the wealthy postal code.
We entered the park for some annual flower viewing (花見).
It was wonderful.
One could almost forget all of the terrible things in the world.
It remained an unusually cold spring. That was fine with me.
The kids didn't seem to mind either.
On the twentieth of April I took our son to the park to try out his new walking skills.
The grass was a bit too much for him.
Jobim came to meet me. He was annoyed that, even though I had extended my stay in the park by one hour, I needed to get back home.
"These kids have a schedule," I scolded.
We went to the large grocery store to meet up with Asaph and our daughter.
"Ehud Barak (אהוד ברק) was here with bodyguards looking for a special kind of yogurt," said Asaph.
I sat at a table in a new dining area with our daughter and Jobim while Asaph paid for the groceries and arranged for their delivery. Because of laws and regulations, the dining area served a wide selection of international beers but could only serve wine from New York State. I wasn't sure who would ever order that.
"Babies depress me," said Jobim. "I think about all the terrible things they still have ahead of them in their lives and it makes me really, really sad."
I was shocked. This partly explained Jobim's reluctance to ever be around us when we were with the babies.
"What about teenagers?" I asked. "Do they depress you too?"
"No. They're assholes."
The next day was even colder. Cold and dry, things had been. It was a nice change from hot and wet.
We ventured out again.
It was a challenge to keep the kids entertained.
Being the kind of parent I had always wanted to be was much harder than I had expected. Eventually one got tired of seeing one's children cry, so one let them do things that one had preferred not to let them do. It was a vicious cycle or circle.
Oh well, I thought.
I developed terrible sinus issues. At least, I hoped they were sinus issues.
I had to leave work, because what I hoped was not a brain tumor was making it hard to stare at the computer. I thought about the other condition that I had hoped was merely the result of over-consumption of a spicy Yemenite condiment.
I took a long walk.
It felt nice to be alone.
I went to the dentist for a procedure.
My dentist was another non-heterosexual with twin children, although his were older.
I wanted to bond with him while he bonded my teeth. But it didn't really happen.
The specific manifestations of the season appeared and disappeared so rapidly that one had to make sure to pay close attention or they would be overlooked.
I walked down the drive along the side of the river.
Take note! I said to myself.
Behold! I told myself.
We had arranged to spend the night with our friends who lived in a township located in the easternmost portion of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Asaph went to get the rental car. But there was a problem with the car seats. I walked the kids around the blocks for hours as he tried to install them.
Eventually we had to go get a different car.
After many hours, we arrived.
I enjoyed them too.
We went to some outlet malls to buy clothes for the children. Asaph got some great deals in a consignment shop, but we were unable to find shoes to fit our daughter, owing to her banana feet and strong will.
We prepared the room where we would all sleep. I had forgotten about the plague of brown marmorated stink bugs that had afflicted the land. We went around the room and removed them with paper towels, flushing each one down the toilet.
I was worried that some would emerge from the rafters and crawl onto the children.
We watched a light romantic comedy about a non-homosexual woman and her non-heterosexual best friend who attempted to have a child together. The non-heterosexual actor was a person I had seen at my former self-esteem-destroying gym and on Fire Island, and I had engaged in some light stalking of this individual.
He was kind of dreamy.
I slept poorly, dreaming about being covered by and with stink bugs. I would have preferred different dreams.
The morning came without incident.
We thanked our gracious hosts and drove to a township in Essex County, New Jersey, where my college friend and former roommate Emily lived with her husband and children.
Our children again enjoyed the lawns.
Emily's daughter was very sweet.
At one point she whispered to her mother. "Why do the babies say mama when they don't have one?"
Emily was a feminist professor.
There were no fences between the back yards in their section of the neighborhood. A boy who lived next door observed Emily's husband setting up our lunch at an outdoor table.
"What are we having?" the child asked, boldly.
"Bagels," answered the husband. "But we have to make sure that we have enough for our guests."
"That's fine, I can wait," said the child. He literally pulled up a chair and sat watching us eat.
He didn't look malnourished.
We dropped our kids off in Brooklyn with Audra, our paid childminder. They were spending the night there.
We headed down to a so-called old haunt. I was shocked by so-called progress in the new luxury apartments being constructed opposite.
A photo was sent to us as we stood in the dusky and somewhat hoary throngs.
I couldn't really be a part of both of these worlds anymore, I realized.
Unless I could find a middle path.
Could I? Wasn't it too late?
We had dinner at one of the two or three restaurants I still agreed to eat in. Jobim joined us.
The food was so delicious that I still had spring in my step the next day just thinking about it.