Yesterday evening I was scolded by Pops and Mo for not updating this blog for a while. “We have developed certain expectations,” I was informed.
In my defense, we’ve been gone—we’re just back from a plane trip to St. Louis. So I’ll try and post a lot of pictures to make it up to those discerning Robin-lovers whose expectations have not recently been met! Here’s Robin in his Nanita’s car:
Robin was thrilled with Nanita and with Nanita’s house. It was filled with baby-friendly things, like a toy truck he could push:
And a high chair he could sit in:
And when he sat in that chair, Nanita fed him fresh Missouri peaches, which he ate with gusto.
But the highlight of the trip for Robin was a visit to the St. Louis Zoo. We saw baby tigers and baby wild asses (“How pleasant to see a baby ass I don’t have to wipe!”), but just like in San Francisco Robin was much less excited about the animals than he was about all the other people. Then we went to the children’s zoo. They had a petting zoo just like in San Francisco, but one thing the St. Louis zoo had that the San Francisco zoo did not was a play area filled with water spouts:
This place, this place was like heaven to Robin. We must have stayed there for almost an hour. He crawled from one waterspout to another, screaming with laughter. He got soaked to the bone and loved every second of it. It’s so weird because he still hates baths with a fiery passion.
We had a really good time in St. Louis. We showed Sam more of the urban parts of the city, like the Central West End and the Loop, as well as residential neighborhoods like Southampton and the Hill. My fantasies of owning a little brick bungalow returned full force. It’s a topic we’re planning to revisit in about six months.
When I was going to high school there, I saw St. Louis as provincial and backwater, a city lacking in any culture or sophistication. Now I see a city that has suffered from neglect and decay, but one that retains a great deal of character and charm in its completely unpretentious streets. Its architectural heritage is marvelously intact (largely because St. Louis was a city built in brick); its history is proud and vibrant (like New Orleans, St. Louis benefitted from a rich cultural stew of French, Spanish, American and native influences, and in the steamboat age she was a queen of commerce); and its neighborhoods are becoming revitalized, with little shops and restaurants opening up in the old once-empty storefronts, and new families moving into those sweet old houses. There’s a lot to love in St. Louis. I think life could be easy there in a way that it isn’t in San Francisco: much as we love this city, it’s not family-friendly. It’s really a city for young childless people, people who want to go to shows and make art and have wild parties, to have their consciousness expanded and their horizons broadened. It’s easy to do those things in San Francisco. But it’s not easy to find quiet shady streets where little boys can ride their tricycles, and it’s not easy to buy a house with a garden in back, and it’s not easy to find communities of middle-class parents who can help you with the work of raising your child. Those things are easy in St. Louis.
I don’t want surburbia: I don’t want subdivisions of identical houses, where even the most trivial daily chores require a lot of driving. I want city life, but I also want the quiet shady street and the pretty little house with the garden, and neighbors who have kids. And I want these things for cheap. So more and more I’m looking outside of San Francisco. Of course, once I get to this point in the chain of thought, I start having a panic attack about the thought of leaving this beautiful, spirited, mythic city, that has given me so much happiness. We have many friends here, and real roots. It would be painful to tear them up.
Even if we do leave, it pleases me to think that Robin was born here, and that fact can never change. San Francisco is indelibly a part of his personal heritage. We have given him that.