Here’s how I celebrated my sixth birthday, back in 1963. I like how my sister Mike is pursing her lips empathetically, “helping” me blow out my candles the way you “help” a baby you’re feeding by opening your mouth as you offer the spoon. That Edgemont School T-shirt of Ben’s became mine when he outgrew it. Rachel and I are wearing matching dresses with a cherry pattern. The cake is pineapple-upside-down, probably with one pineapple ring to hold each candle. I couldn’t begin to guess what I’m wishing.
I’m guessing this is my
seventh eighth* birthday, because we’re in Paris and to my right is Rachel Bonner — my best friend that year. My birthday must have fallen on week day, because the two Rachels and I are all wearing the white blouses and blue sweaters of our school uniforms. (Not pictured: our pleated grey skirts. Also, Mike. Where is she?) I have no idea what Ben is thinking about, but he sure looks pensive. The cake is definitely not pineapple-upside-down. It looks like some sort of fruit tart, probably from A La Flute Enchantee, the fancy bakery on Avenue Mozart, a short block from our apartment.
*Thanks to Ben for this correction. Maybe that’s what he’s thinking about in this picture? Must remember what year it is, because if I don’t, who will?
I celebrated another birthday this past weekend. David prepared incredible huevos rancheros for breakfast. They tasted just as good as they looked.
Sophie and Henry took the train down from Boston, and we spent the day exploring Bristol. Here’s a detail from the very ornate, very rusted fence in front of Linden Place. If we’d gone inside, we could have heard the history of the family that built this house. Like so many of the wealthiest citizens of this area in those days, they made their fortune in the slave trade. Rhode Island is where molasses from the West Indies got turned into rum, which was exported to West Africa, where the ships were converted into prison boats and the rum traded for slaves.
This year’s cold, rainy May made it an exceptional season for rhododendrons. They were at their peak this weekend. Bristol is lush with them.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in Colt State Park, walking beside the water, checking out the many families at their Memorial Day Weekend picnics, and trying not to get sunburned. Not pictured: the mango with sticky rice into which David stuck a single candle at dinner. He and Sophie and Henry all sang the birthday song, and I blew the candle out. But I forgot to make a wish.
What would you have wished for?