Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frank Sinatra Never Carried Quarters

Last week I went to the Museum of Modern Art with a friend who is also at home with his infant daughter. It was inspiring to be amid great works of art and fun to hang out with my friend. But to get there required many, many flights of subway stairs as well as a little rain, so I arrived very late, caked in dried sweat and not-yet-dried rain.

Henry had missed his nap, so he started fussing immediately. I had to hold him in one arm and navigate the stroller through the throngs with the other arm. With my third arm, I carried the ever-heavier diaper bag.

Just kidding. I only have two arms. I can't remember which I used to carry the kettle bell diaper bag.

I hear you asking, Why didn't you hang the diaper bag on the back of the stroller?

Good question. There is a two-part answer. First, the Maclaren stroller is so light that it needs a counterweight to hold the diaper bag, like so:
Oh Hudsy, you are such a good boy.

If I take Henry out and leave the diaper bag on the stroller, it crashes to the ground, like so:
This has happened to me many, many times. It's embarrassing how many.

Second, I could have used the seat of the stroller, but I put that diaper bag down everywhere, including the floor of the subway and some bathrooms. The grime would transfer itself onto the straps of the stroller and then into Henry's mouth when he inevitably chews on said straps.



On the final leg of my exhausting journey home, a 12-minute walk from the subway to my apartment, I saw a hipsterish guy in his 30s messing around with his bike on the curb. At first I didn't give it another thought, but as I passed, it seemed like he was struggling.

Are you okay? I asked.

Um, I think so, he answered, which was clearly code for NO.

I went over. He had changed a flat and couldn't get the wheel back on. I'm no champion bike-tire-changer, but I held the frame up (with my fourth arm) so he could use both hands to get the chain back on the gear and the wheel into the proper spot.

He thanked me sincerely and I walked on.

It occurred to me that, in Life Before Henry, I never would have stopped. There is something about New York that makes you think people don't want your help. Like, by helping, you're cheating them out of their Frank Sinatra moment, and now they'll never know whether they can make it here, or anywhere.

Now that I'm on the other side of the equation, the soundtrack that accompanies my adventures in the big city is much more "Help" by the Beatles. In Life After Henry, I am a most grateful recipient of offers to get the stroller through the subway turnstiles. Sometimes it's true that it's easier for me to hoist the stroller up the stairs myself, but I'm still incredibly appreciative of the thoughtfulness.

When I finally got home, I was wiped out. I dropped the diaper bag to the floor, and it fell with an unusual clank. I reached my hand in and pulled out... a roll of quarters.

And then four more rolls of quarters.

Not only had I carted Henry, an umbrella, the diaper bag and my sorry ass up and down subway stairs and through a museum jammed with oblivious tourists, I had also carried the added weight of fifty dollars in quarters for the lame machines in the lame laundry room in my lame building.


If you can make it here as a mother, you can make it anywhere. Accepting a little help up the subway stairs won't change that.