Last week's short jaunt to New York City was Gus's first time. It involved a whole slew of firsts: first tim on a bus, in a cab, on the subway. His first roller coaster, which he was disappointed wasn't alongside his big sister. His first time eating calamari, which he was excited to brag about to his more culinarily adventurous big sister. In addition to those notable firsts, there was also so much to be learned. It involved the requisite educational component: we spent the afternoon on the Intrepid. While there, he definitely gained some facts, picking up the sort of knowledge that can be gleaned from books but is some much more memorable when accompanied by buttons to push and spaces to explore. His reaction to discovering that the Gemini 3 was nicknamed the Gusmobile was sweet and priceless: "My name's Gus," he announced to me and Joanna, as though that was a fact that might have escaped us.
But the most profound learning occurred outside the realm of the strictly educational. It came through discovering how different the lives of others can be. What it is like to live in small places, to walk longer distances, to shop in bodegas, to cool off in city fountains. A life full of elevator pressing, cross walks, and public transportation. At dinner in a basement level Italian restaurant, while talking to a grumpy, old Italian man who teased Gusto the brink of his comfort level , I think Gus learned how alike two seemingly different people can be, when the meal ended with sharing photos of their respective fishing triumphs.
I was grateful to spend a few of days with just one child as my main focus. Gus got the chance to take control of more of my attention than usual. While Alamae was there with us, there were enough adults to lighten the load and the trip catered to Gus's whims, giving him the time and space to shine. My heart broke dozens of times each day as I watched my charming blonde boy interact with the people around him, easily talking with adults and children alike. His words warm and genuine. Watching my boy take a new place by storm left me prideful to the point of sin.