Monday, August 10, 2009

Bringing Back Togetherness.

It is very rare for me that my family - all four of us (don't tell my mom I didn't count Cooper as a member of the family, she'll kill me) - really get to spend any time together. For one thing, we all have entirely different interests. My dad and Pat share their love of all things sports related, but that really ends there for them too.

My mom loves her gardening, her friends, and lunches at the country club. My dad is a big fan of wine (and while I love wine too, I'm nowhere near the knowledge level he is!), sports, and sleeping in his favorite chair...he also seems to love to do yard work too, and carefully inspects every inch of the lawn, making sure that it is mowed to his satisfaction. My brother...loves parties, hooking up, Wayfarer sunglasses, longboarding, and fishing. And then there is me, the fashion obsessed, art loving, flower child that no one is entirely sure how to relate to.

These differences make it hard for us to spend quality time as a family. Growing up, family dinners were a non negotiable thing - we always ate at the table together for every dinner. While I hated it at the time, especially when I had friends who were allowed to eat in their rooms, I can now appreciate the fact that we got to spend time together, even for just twenty minutes. Some nights would be filled with conversation, other nights would be quiet as we simply ate and then went on our way.

Now, we never eat together. Ever. My dad sits in front of the TV watching Cash Cab, with my mom joining him and eating in silence. I eat in the kitchen alone, and my brother brings his food up to his room (where his plates will sit for weeks, or until my mom puts them in the dishwasher). Lately I've been linking being home with loneliness, because as pathetic as this sounds, I am usually alone when I'm at my house. (I know, I know, poor me - I do realize it could be much worse!).

My parents also never do things together. Growing up, I remember they would constantly go to benefits or fundraisers together, work parties, and they would go on dates every single week. I don't know if as the years have gone by they've fallen out of love with one another, but now, they rarely talk, let alone go on dates. When my dad gets home from work (granted he is very tired from his stressful job), he plops down in front of the TV, and is most likely sound asleep twenty minutes later. My mom occasionally joins him while they watch TV together, but she sits on the couch alone while he sits in his big chair, fairly far away from her. The conversation is strained, and there is no romance left in their relationship.

For Father's Day, my brother and I decided it would be fun to go to the city to one of Bobby Flay's restaurants Mesa Grill. My dad is an enormous fan of Bobby Flay, and Pat and I decided we could both pay for brunch for our family to go in and eat together (because as much as we'd like to go for dinner, we just can't afford it on our own). The brunch menu is super reasonably priced, with all the entrees between $13 and $18 at the most, so it's perfect. My dad was super excited, but plans of finding a weekend fell by the wayside as we all went on with our lives.

Finally, we picked a day (yay!). I was very apprehensive about the whole thing - what would we all talk about? Would my brother even end up going? (Usually he bails last minute out of family obligations/commitments). Would we fight? What would I wear?

We drove into the city on noon on Sunday - giving us a ton of time to make our 1:30 reservation. My brother dressed in business casual, with no complaints - abandoning his summer wardrobe of Ed Hardy or Hollister tshirts (classy), my mom didn't scream as my dad slammed on his breaks at every red light just barely missing the car in front of us, and I didn't text the entire time and we all actually laughed the whole way there. My mom was a little unsure about parking my dad's new car on the street ("Michael, it is going to get smashed into...your GPS will be stolen" [the GPS is a built in...a little difficult to steal]...and luckily there was a Bentley parked on the street...which we all agreed was definitely going to get broken into before our car!), but we let it go and headed to the restaurant, located on Fifth Avenue, by Union Square.

We were seated immediately, and all actually agreed on an appetizer (goat cheese queso fundido dip with blue corn chips...delicioussss), while we sat back laughing, sipping our coffee/tea, and reminiscing about different family memories. My dad has this silly complex about not ordering anything anyone else does, so we each checked out what we were getting to make sure there were absolutely no duplicates (it is the weirdest thing ever, I know!).

I got this unbelievably fabulous blue corn waffle, with blackberries, bourbon syrup and vanilla creme fraiche, Pat ordered the most enormous burger I've ever seen, my dad got some stuffed pepper thing, and my mom got a pork sandwich that was also massive. Let me tell you, we absolutely CLEANED our plates. I scarfed down my waffle in no time at all, feeling satisfied and unbearably full afterwards.

After I paid the bill (which gave the waiter quiteee the shock) we headed over to Union Square, where local artists and college students had set up stands selling their photography, t-shirts, and various knick knacks. I absolutely LOVE taking in everything - all the different people, cultures, smells, sounds, colors, everything, and think that I could honestly spend hours just sitting and people watching.

We walked around for about a half hour, before, let's face it, this girl right here got a craving for a little something called a cupcake from Magnolia Bakery. If none of you have ever heard of/been to Magnolia Bakery, you must instantly book yourself a plane/train/or drive to NYC and hop on over to Magnolia Bakery for a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. I swear, every time I eat one, I die a little bit inside and feel a little bit of heaven (my girl Elizabeth will agree with me!). The frosting is like this perfectly sweet buttercream, and they come in these gorgeous pastel colors like green, yellow, pink and purple! Seriously, come to NYC and I will personally take you to/let you buy me a cupcake (just kidding, it's on me!). For $2.50, you can have your own piece of heaven.

There are currently three Magnolia Bakery's in the city, each at a different location, but the one I prefer is the original bakery located in the Village, on Bleeker Street. It's in this super, super cozy neighborhood, with little parks and all of these fabulous little brownstones and brick apartments. It is seriously the kind of place I could see myself living...still a part of the city, but isolated in a sense that the streets aren't quite as loud. Seriously, I could see myself walking my little English bulldog down the sidewalks (though if I lived that close to Magnolia Bakery it is a pretty decent possibility I would require being fork lifted out of my apartment due to my massive weight gain ;). Being in that neighborhood makes me so, so happy.

As we walked back to our car, my parents held hands - a first in like, years. We all laughed the entire way home (especially when the guy in his car next to us was blasting his horrible music in a car where the rims were more expensive than the actual car...and my dad plugged in my brother's iPod, rolled down the windows, and blasted LMFAO's "I'm in Miami, Bitch"...awful and embarrassing because my dad is too white for that).

When we returned home, we all went our separate ways, but that time spent together was one of the best memories I've had of all of us together in a longggg time. Days like this give me hope that our family will be okay, and that we still can have these fabulous family days that I will remember forever.

Happy Father's Day! (in August).
Picture 126

Picture 127

Picture 128

Pat's MASSIVE burger:
Picture 131

I promise my dad does not usually look like a creeper. I have no idea why his eyes look like this:
Picture 133

And my mom doesn't really always look stoned:
Picture 132

Picture 135

My future neighborhood :)
Picture 138

And seriously, the best cupcakes you will everrr eat:
Picture 139

What is one of your favorite memories with your family?

Currently listening to: Kasabian - Empire (because my poor boys in Kasabian have the swine flu!).


♥Aubrey said...

Mmmmm...blueberry waffles for lunch. I will so eat breakfast anytime of day. And that chocolate cupcake on the right is mine right? Your future neighborhood is adorable and if i'm ever in town i hope you save the couch. I'll bring the pillow :)- Too cute that you saw your rents holding hands after so many times you see them not. My parents after 20 something years are still madly in love more than ever, so in that way i can't relate. Great job on paying for the brunch :)

Tracy-Girl said...

I definitely don't think you are alone with the family time thing! We are the same way, and have been for years because we all have different interests. I love that your dad watches cash cab, that is halarious! :) The pictures are adorable...

Elizabeth Marie said...

Ok, so you know when you think you have reached the amount that you can fall in love with someone and then you READ A POST LIKE THIS and fall head over heels again?! Do I sound creepy..I don't care!

This might be my favorite post of yours ever, and that is saying so much because you know how much I love everything you write. You just put into words what so many families experience...I can totally relate.

I am so glad you all had this day together, and seeing your parents hold hands must have been just the sweetest. Almost as sweet as Magnolia :) And that is my fav one too!!!! I want to live in that neighborhood, I just need a sugahhh daddy first! :)

My fave memories with my family are usually holidays-Christmas eve is a fave for us. When we are FORCED to all be together, things seem to work out haha.

(Kasabian has swine flu?)

Love love love you girl!! XO

Carol said...

I'm glad you got to spend some good quality time with your fam! What a sweet looking family you have!

New England Girl said...

Aw, what a wonderful day out with your family! My family, too, is like this and it is often quite sad to see the lack of interaction. But, it is an afternoon like you all had, which truly makes the little moments special- even if they are far and few inbetween! Love the photos, too! That neighborhood is so adorable! I'm now seriously craving a walk through the city, especially this neighborhood, and ending up at your fabulous little bakery! :)

Kristin said...

Is there anything better than family time? Sounds like such a lovely way to spend the day. Loving Pat's wicked cool 'do!

zupu said...

I miss my family so much, we haven't all been together since last Christmas.. I have such many good memories of us but I think the next time will be very special because we will all meet in Paris where my sister is going to study for a year from september,
I can't wait!

Oh those cupcakes look so yummy!

Have a lovely weekend!

Nicole Linette said...

What an amazing, albeit late, Father's Day celebration! And how gracious of you to take the bill! The food sounds delicious and the company enjoyable.
I definitely have the same feeling with my parents at times, like that they're around each other because that's just how it's been for the last 43 years (longgg time, I can't even imagine), but the love part seems to be missing.. ack, at times I despise being around my brothers and sisters because the conversation is frustrating. The way you all reconnected is wonderful. I smiled when you described the Magnolia Bakery cupcakes. I haven't tried one (haven't even been to NYC yet -- it's blasphemy!), but I've seen them on the Travel Channel! One day though :D I hope you can move to 'your' neighborhood too.

My favorite family memory is when we would all go camping on the St. Lawrence River, boating during the day and then campfires at night. I remember this one particular time when we had a marshmallow war; it was disgusting and glorious all at once :]

Have a nice weekend Allison!

Lisa said...

Awww, this post was so sweet! I love the photos. It really sounds like you and your family created a special memory that day, so thank you for sharing. :)

I can't think of any memories when my entire family were all in the same place at once (boo!) but everyone was together for my college graduation last year so that was definitely a special moment.

Hope you have a lovely weekend! :)

Lee said...

this post gives me hope. you painted a portrait of my family. we are forced to eat dinner together and at times the tension is so think you would need a steak knife to cut it. actually, a lot of the time, but its nice to hear that a family that doesn't fuction can. i'm glad you had fun!

Hanako66 said...

You are so amazing. I am so happy that you and your family had this day and I absolutely enjoyed reading every bit of it!

My dad traveled so much when I was young for business and I was so busy that we never really did the whole "dinner together" thing either. When I moved away and my parents eventually moved out of my childhood home...their relationship went to a place I never was able to experience. They were just so happy.

I am thinking good thoughts and hope that everything turns out exactly the way this day was forever:)

kimvee said...

Cute silver sandals and that is a massive burger! I love going to Magnolia's Bakery, but for some reason it seems really sweet to me, hmm maybe that's why I always share it with someone else :)

Lily G. said...

Looks like a fun time with family. I love your outfit and hair!

p.s. 500 days of summer was so cute! I really liked it. Have you watched it yet?

Keith said...

Hey Allison. Great post. I'm so glad that you got a chance to get together with your family. I know it's hard these days for relatives to spend time together. We should definitely cherish those moment we can be together and enjoy each other's company. it sounds like a great time was had by all. My best memories with my family were our summer vacations up in the mountains of NC. We would rent a cabin for a week. It was amazing. Take care. Cheers!

kimvee said...

Awww thank you! My brother's girlfriend's sister interns at an art company and gets these complimentary tickets for free so she gave it to me on my birthday hehehe. I have tickets to visit the Guggenheim, I'm planning to go there with my boyfriend soon before summer ends :)

Couture Carrie said...

So sweet, darling! You have a lovely family!

My fave memories are from summers in Nova Scotia :)


yiqin; said...

I like going to the zoo wit my family ;)

•¦Amy¦• said...

I want to visit Magnolia Bakery so bad! I look at one of their cookboooks with envy every time I go to Antrhopologie...

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