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Welcome! This is a blog about life after losing my mom (on April 7th, 2014), running (or not, depending on injuries), being a 'mama' to Grace, 11, Genevieve, 9, and Joseph 4, and teaching 13-18 year olds in Philadelphia. Thanks for being here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Princess Pirates and Other Dreams

Swimming and kayaking on October!
We spent last night and this morning at the beach, as the girls and I had off today for Columbus Day. Anthony wasn't scheduled for the store, so it was one of those rare family days. Rare, too, because it is October and we were able to kayak and swim in the ocean. Anthony, Grace, and I all went under waves. Genevieve stayed knee-deep on the shore. The water was clear, crisp, and invigorating. Later, as the girls played on the beach, a few monarch butterflies hovered, lingering before that long trip south to Mexico.

Jorgito and Malú in dance class at school
My parents were there, too. I ran with my Dad this morning, as we like to do when at the beach together. Down Long Beach Boulevard to Neptune Market we went, where we took a left and wound through the streets lining the bay before heading home. It's a brief three mile run but enough to get in some talking and some thinking. This morning, with Barnegat Lighthouse only a few miles to the north,  I started thinking about the movie Viva Cuba. It's a lovely little film about two best friends, Malú and Jorgito, who live in Cuba. Their families--one socialist and the other wealthy (or previously wealthy)--hate each other. When Malú's grandmother dies and her mother announces that they are leaving the island to move north, Malú and Jorgito run away together to try to prevent being separated. They think if they can only make it to Malú's father, who lives in the lighthouse at the southernmost tip of Cuba, and convince him to not sign the papers, that they can stay together. Their friendship is beautiful. Their imaginations--which allow them to dream that they might, against all rational thought, be able to stay together--are unbridled and limitless as only children's imaginations can be.  In the end, though, this is not enough. They arrive at the lighthouse and for a brief moment think they have been saved. Then the adults arrive. Malú and Jorgito run to the edge of the sea, where they embrace, knowing that it (their friendship, their childhood, their pure and wild dreams) cannot last.
Jorgito and Malú embrace at the edge of the sea.


I started thinking about how I want to show this movie to my 9th graders this year because they also read Romeo and Juliet, that other story that so well captures the completely irrational yet pure and beautiful dreams of youth. These dreams are fantastic. They shine. And they cannot last. (It is because they cannot last, of course, that they are so achingly beautiful. When I used to teach Romeo and Juliet, we always had a good time imagining what would have happened had Romeo and Juliet actually lived to get married.)

My Dad and I, along with Joseph in the jog stroller, ended our run at the walkway on the end of our street, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, far from where Jorgito and Malú, desperately trying to hold onto something, embraced in Viva Cuba, but it was an ocean nonetheless. I took Joseph out of the stroller and carried him back to the house, where the girls were playing Crazy 8s with my mom. Later, on the beach, they pretended they were princesses and made castles for themselves. They followed this with a game of pirates. When I asked them which one they were, a princess or a pirate, they stated matter of fact: "We're princess pirates." Then, the October light shining, they ran to the water laughing and chasing each other, their arms raised, unaware of me standing behind them with an ache in my heart.
The Princess Pirates