This weather is killing us. It’s been in the 20’s and 30’s this week. In Portland we generally have wind storms. They blow through every winter and they’re ferocious. We can feel the upstairs bedrooms sway back and forth. The roof rattles. The floor shakes.
Every now and then we get a spectacular ice storm. Houses look like they’ve been encased in glass. Glistening power lines criss-cross and sag over the streets. Stairs are off-limits. Ice skating on sidewalks is possible. We haven’t had one for a little while, but the next time it happens I’ll post some pics of it.
Portland also gets what other cities would call dustings of snow. We call it Arctic Blast. But I think most of us who’ve lived here a while would agree that our climate is changing. The summers are hotter, the winters are colder and my rickety old house can hardly keep up. It wasn’t built for this kind of weather. The furnace is running round the clock. We have space heaters in two rooms. Judging by the reaction of my children I’m afraid Boston is going to be a wee bit challenging for them.
Yesterday TC was craving what he called the commercial side of Christmas (“Remember how exciting it was when you were a kid! Santa was at the mall! Music was playing!”). We hadn’t been near a mall during the holiday season in many years (since Santa brought D hermit crabs when she was two). I was very pleased with this achievement, but since I’m a good and faithful wife (wink, nudge) I went cheerily along. “This is part of the magic, Kids! We drive around and around until we find that lucky parking spot. It’s exciting because you never know how long it’ll take!” After scratching their heads, they decided they might as well join in. Soon they were pointing and cheering, “We did it! We did it! We parked!” We suited up in our hats, scarves, mittens, diaper bag and double stroller to make the hundred yard journey inside, but within seconds Z, a sun Goddess by nature, was losing it over the cold. Except for the insane shrieking, her tantrum resembled a football player doing tire drills. Meanwhile, the boys followed by shouting, “Cold, cold! Owie, hands cold, owie hands cold! No like it!” D who was built for snow made an announcement: “In Boston this is warm, People!” After sprinting through the parking lot we arrived inside Washington Square Mall. It looks like every other modern mall of America, but I must admit it’s been so long since I’d been to one of these places it felt a little like Disney World. All four children were astonished. TC exclaimed, “This is going to be fun, Everyone! Just look at this place!” None of the children had ever really experienced a big mall let alone one at Christmas time… throngs of shoppers, piped-in carols overhead, salespeople calling out, “Hi, can I ask you a question… do you like to save money?… wait, hello? Hi! Can I ask you a question…” And when the children asked, “Daddy, daddy, can we look at the twirling wind chimes?” Daddy answered, “Of course we can!”
We consulted the directory and charted our course: due north to Legoland just west of Build a Bear. People have been hitting this Legoland for ages, but it was our first time and it was pretty cool. My absolute favorite part of all was the twenty-something boy who so passionately explained the lego-artist’s vision of a Japanese garden and koi pond. As long as I kept asking questions he (blue eyes, wide shoulders) kept talking. I looked around at all the moms and dads, especially dads. We were all so ragged looking, but there was an unmistakable twinkle in their eyes that said, this is what they do with legos now a days – awesome! More parents were jamming their cups with legos than kids.
We did it all. The kiddie tumbling area. The fleet of stationary cars that rock back and forth for quarters. The Sleep Number store. We even investigated the J.C. Penny family photo center (they were booked, of course). Then we hit the food court for mounds of Panda Express (“Please! Please! It’s the best!” begged the girls). On the way out we took some Cheesecake Factory slices to go. We hadn’t had it since L.A. I never learn my lesson. If the menu says carmel sauce, peanut butter mouse, butterfingers, Reese’s peanut butter cups and a chocolate graham cracker crust, I lose all self-control. It’s like holding a bag and a needle out to a junkie. Later, after almost vomiting, I begged TC to intervene if I ever try that again. Plain cheesecake. It’s the only way.
In the car TC said, “Was that fun or what!?” as he searched for Jingle Bells on the radio. “Yeah!” the children cried. The whole way home I couldn’t stop thinking of the Griswolds and how I never dreamed I’d end up married to Clark. It was a great day at the mall. In another six years maybe we’ll do it again.