new york city kid in arkansas
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Today Huck is 16 years old! (Well, as of 9:27 EST this evening, which he thinks is a pretty important distinction.) I feel this picture best captures who he is right now: obsessed with technology, loyal FHS mask-wearer, long-haired, still adorable. The only thing missing is a pot of tea. He’s also a migraine sufferer with incredible homework skills and longterm goals who can talk for hours without taking a breath. Prone to stress, he is our resident tech support, and nothing makes him happier than talking about the new Macbook Air he has his fingers on in this photo. He’s got a very part-time job building a website, which he says he could do all day long, and still has his sights on MIT, though he could also see himself at McGill in Canada, what with his love for French and serious winter. He’s a good, cautious, nervous driver who isn’t in a hurry to get his actual license, thank God, because his mother certainly can’t picture him driving alone. He has a very colorful sock and Converse collection and knows everything there is to know about US history, which is helpful in these weird times. He loves the music of Pomplamoose, St. Vincent, Hayley Williams and Dodie. His bedroom is a den of fairy lights, fragrant candles and essential oils. He has a pack of friends who make him very happy, and occasionally they meet up on the town square and walk around drinking tea and taking pictures like a nerd gang. He loves to cook for us (as long as I’m the sous-chef), and most mornings he’s the official smoothie maker.¬† He continues to play the piano and to sing in the high school A Capella Choir from home (though last week they did meet at the school for a special recording that brought an hour of normalcy to his very abnormal sophomore year). Next up: Aunt Jeni’s 16th annual March visit that no global pandemic can stop!

(Thank you, Pfizer, Moderna and Dr. Fauci.)

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Huck finally got what he wishes for every winter: over a week of snow days and ridiculously cold temperatures. He’s quick to point out that he’s NOT happy about what happened down in Texas, especially since our beloved Shannon was terribly affected in Austin. But he was deeply happy as the snow and the temperature kept coming down. Just like 2013 and 2014, we again found ourselves in a charming Arkansas home with a heat pump, which was someone’s crazy idea. Once it got into the teens, we basically had cold air blowing through our house. Once it got into the negative teens … well, I’m not ready to talk about it. Troy kept the home fires going, literally, day after day and night after night. People close to us worried we might die of carbon monoxide poisoning which prompted an emergency run to Lowe’s for a detector that thankfully remained silent. Our town asked us to please conserve energy and set the thermostat to 65. If we could get our heat up to 65, we celebrated. We actually turned it off for 24 hours so that we could warm up. Thank goodness for our fireplace, my adult onesie footsies, fingerless gloves, and double slanket.

As I write, spring has come to Fayetteville (and Austin) and the snow is gone. Just like that, things are looking up. Troy and I will be fully vaccinated by the end of this week, and in twelve days Huck will be 16, complete with a visit from vaccinated Aunt Jeni! We’ve decided to turn France into Huck’s high school graduation trip in 2023, and this summer we’re hoping to rehearse in Montreal and Quebec City. We have high hopes for a Kansas visit to hug nieces and nephews, celebrate my dad’s 80th, and take my mom to Target. As we approach the one year anniversary of when real life was replaced by screens, I feel as hopeful and trusting as our sweet daffodils that popped up a couple weeks ago and are still going strong.

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The other morning as I was about to go to work the zipper on my warmest coat stopped working. I let out a quick exasperated¬†sigh which seems to be Huck’s cue to save the day. He leapt off the couch and began frantically working on the zipper while I stood there, trapped in my own coat, feeling very short and incapable of basic human functioning. For a minute there I was trapped in a fully zipped up coat that showed no signs of ever being unzipped, until Huck finally figured out how to free me but not necessarily for the zipper to ever zip again. As I hurriedly ran to the car he shouted, “I can fix it tonight!” to which I replied, “What, you’re a coat zipper expert now?”

Our roles are reversing. Because he’s clearly smarter than me in many areas and because of his immediate ability to resolve my constant tech issues, he now seems to view me as a young child who needs his help in every way. Let’s be honest: it’s very important that he never moves out of our house.

And like any mother/teenager relationship, Huck and I have our moments that make Troy appear with a look on his face that seems to say, “Should I call the police?” The other evening right as Troy and I had settled comfortably on the couch in front of the fire to watch an episode of “The Americans,” Huck appeared like a scam artist in Central Park, asking our advice on a sketchy homework situation. Troy handled the trick question much more delicately than I did, and the next thing we knew Huck had stormed out of the room and slammed his bedroom door. We sighed, rolled our eyes and attempted to start the show, only to realize our Apple TV had a glitch that we weren’t capable of fixing because of our ever-growing dependence on you-know-who. There was a very awkward silence that I finally broke with the pitiful question, “Do you think you could go ask Huck to fix this?” Troy then quietly knocked on Huck’s door and sounded exactly like Oliver Twist on the streets of London as he submissively asked, “Please sir, might you help us with the remote?”

We’re finding it hard to maintain our parental status these days. (Especially when he keeps making us meals like this.)