During the New York stop of D’s and my nine-day, four-city Extreme East Coast Adventure, we landed for a couple of nights at my brother, sister-in-law and niece’s Park Slope brownstone.
The day before, D had met a few of my numerous New York relatives—mother, one grandmother, one brother—but not yet F, my sister-in-law. (I feel obliged to note that, for her, this title seems distinctly weak: I have known F since she was seventeen and I was five: throughout my childhood she took to regularly supervising my backyard birthday parties—from kimonos to tie-dyes, bless her then-teenage heart.)
And that afternoon–considering F’s lifetime of childcare, it was the least I could do–D and I picked up S, my seven-year-old niece, from elementary school–and, by way of a chaotic playground on 7th Avenue and a slightly calmer stop for Italian Icies on 5th (rainbow for the kid, lemon for us), brought her home.
A little while later, D was downstairs starting a load of laundry when F walked in the house, home from an afternoon pedicure up the block.
She looked down to see S and I sprawled on the hardwood living room floor with sharpies and construction paper, books and scissors, glue sticks and stickers–but no D.
“Where is he!?” she stage-whispered, still only partway through the door.
“Huh?” I looked up, reluctant to distract from my intense focus on the startingly Herculean task S had just charged me with: drawing a cat.
“The boyfriend! I haven’t seen him and I don’t believe he exists!”