2008.12.10 Carpe diem, carpe beignet

Written by David Green.


Ever since Maddie, and her friends Ali and Abby, went to Florida for spring break last year, Maddie has been receiving subpoenas on a regular basis.

While they were in Miami visiting Ben and Sarah, Maddie and Abby took a little spin to downtown Coconut Grove just to see what was going on at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night.

Turns out, on the streets, not much. Around 1:30 a.m., they returned to the car and found where the action really is: in the parking garages.

They discovered the back side window broken on Ben’s car and Abby’s camera and Ben’s jacket missing. It was the start of a long night for everyone but Ali, who had been smart enough to go to bed early and stay there.

Ben and Sarah joined Maddie and Abby for the police report and were required to hang around while the police waited for the fingerprinting crew to arrive.

With nothing better to do in the middle of the night in a parking garage, Ben and Sarah sauntered to the edge of the structure, and were looking down on the street, whereupon they noticed a couple of men breaking into another car.

They alerted the police officers in the parking garage, who alerted officers on patrol in the neighborhood, who sped to the scene and arrested the culprits.

Ben and Sarah were heroes; Maddie and Abby didn’t see much of anything. Still, Maddie and Abby have been bombarded with subpoenas just the same as Ben and Sarah, admonishing them to “CALL IMMEDIATELY” and “Bring evidence to court.”

Even though Maddie told them she didn’t see anything, the subpoenas continue to arrive. The latest subpoena put her on telephone standby for a trial that’s supposed to begin on her birthday, Dec. 15. I think that’s why she might have been checking out airline ticket prices. It hasn’t been clear if the state attorney’s office would be flying her down if this case ever gets to trial.

We had purchased our tickets quite awhile ago for our trip to see Rozee and Taylor for Thanksgiving in New Orleans, when Maddie sent a link to the American Airlines website with the subject line, let’s visit Ben too, and this note: “only $140 roundtrip...we don't want Ben to feel left out”

It was the week before Thanksgiving and I was already feeling the ache of our first Thanksgiving without all our children together when Maddie’s words hit me. I didn’t think Ben would feel left out—I’m the one who’d be suffering from the new way of holiday life.

It was such an absurd time to consider a visit to Miami. The deal Maddie found was good for Wednesday to Wednesday travel and the week before Christmas was the only time she could get away.

And then I started thinking about how I’m never going to be able to take my vacation time if I don’t just take it, so I gave serious thought to making the trip.

David didn’t mind me going; Maddie didn’t mind me coming, so, in one of those what-were-you-thinking moments, I booked the reservations.

And then, immediately, flyer’s remorse kicked in. Really, what was I thinking? The week before Christmas? It was a lark, it was a throw-caution-to-the-wind moment, it was crazy!

And then Maddie had an even grander idea.

“we could go on a 3 night cruise to the bahamas from miami that weekend for 150 :)”

I just laughed at that idea.

But we talked about it occasionally...pretending we might actually do it.

And then Maddie must have had an inspiration in one of her environment classes, because she sent this email the other day:

“i know why we need to go on the cruise. when the ice caps melt the bahamas will be gone...so we should see them before they go...world trade center...”

Ew, a blow right to my core. Back in August of 2001, on the hottest, most humid day I’d ever experienced in New York, our family walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. As we neared the end of the bridge, Ben suggested we visit the World Trade Center next.

“Oh, it’s so hot,” I moaned. “Let’s do it the next time we’re here.”

So, now, when there is a choice between stepping into Café du Monde in the French Quarter for a beignet now or doing it next time we’re in the area, I say, “Let’s do it now.”

It may be way too late at night, I may already be full, the beignet may just be a greasy deep-fried pocket of dough thickly covered with an extra heaping helping of confectioner’s sugar, but the experience is now a part of me.

Sitting in an open air café late Thanksgiving night with my family, trying not to inhale confectioner’s sugar, surrounded by other tourists, marveling at the number of people that can fit around a tiny little table—it’s not the most striking of memories, but it’s one that confirms for me: forget carpe diem, seize the moment.

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