Who’s Your Favorite?

4Kids

The road we’re driving on is twisty and quiet. It’s early Saturday morning and we pass a few energetic cyclists bravely making their way up. The still-winter but feels-like-summer sun glints off the faint dust on the windscreen, obscuring my vision every now and then. I pay close attention to the road and my distance from the cyclists, almost completely oblivious to the conversation behind me. When I realize Maroon 5 is playing on the radio, I quickly change it. He’s still cute, but Adam Levine’s whiny singing voice is not welcome at this tranquil hour. Or any hour.

“You’re the favorite,” I hear on the periphery of a sharp hairpin bend. I don’t know who says it. And I don’t know whom they’re saying it to. The details aren’t important to me. It’s an ongoing conversation in our house that I don’t engage in: who’s the favorite. My favorite, they mean. They share their thoughts on this delicate subject openly with each other, all with pretty accurate reasons why they must be right. According to them, my favorite is never the one leading the discussion.

The Urban Dictionary definition of favorite is “most wanted or desired.”

Yes. You’re right. You are my favorite. And, in order of oldest to youngest because that’s the order each of you claimed my whole heart four times over, here’s why:

Daniel, you are my favorite because you got my heart first. Because you are easy-going and independent and responsible. Because you love steak but hate chocolate, and ask every Friday night if the challah is homemade. Because you take school seriously, and have a dry, witty sense of humor, and you don’t mind when your little brother plays with your ears. Because your denim blue eyes are usually calm and steady, but this one time when Dad and I yelled at each other from opposite sides of a cold, hard London street they burned bright with tears and confusion. They looked straight into mine and your broken teenage voice poked holes of relief in my anger. “When you guys walk off in different directions, away from us, we don’t know who to follow.” You spoke for all four of you.

Zak, you’re my favorite. You are the most like me: passionate, sensitive, social and too-easily frustrated. You stomp your feet hard enough for both of us when we don’t get our own way. And you’re you: the heart of our family. One time, you tumbled into the car with difficult bits of the school day stuck to your backpack and your cheeks. With angry sadness swimming in your liquid brown eyes, the first question you asked was how my day was. You are compassion and honesty and fun and courage every time you butt-board down the street, do your Math with a pencil that is difficult to grasp, or use your parkour moves to navigate the wet grass wearing only socks.

Sage, you’re my favorite because I got to name you Sage, a name I have loved forever. And you are wise and fresh and calm and helpful, with your sage-colored eyes and glittering of freckles that twinkle when you laugh. You are my favorite because you love to read and write and make up stories, just like I do, and you also run wild with your brothers. One time, a girl you thought was your friend called you a “demon” and your green eyes deepened to gray as you tried to understand why. You’re my favorite because even though I don’t believe in Valentine’s Day, you do and you helped your little brother do this:

SageValentine

Jed, you were the last to hold my whole heart and you will always be my favorite because you will always be my baby. Even when you’re a dad! Because you are strong and fearless and love to hug me, and you drink tea every day. This one time, we went for a hike and you grabbed a stick and led the way. “For freedom,” you yelled as we all followed in a line behind you, your little body barely visible in its white T-shirt as you charged forward along the trail. You are my favorite because you spray deodorant all over your five-year-old self every morning, and then ask me to tie your shoes.

The drive is over and I pull into a spot. I kill the engine and half turn in my seat to look at them. Echoes of “favorite” bounce in the space between us, like a buoyant balloon expected to pop any second.

“You’re all my favorite,” I say. Jed smiles, happy to hear the answer.

“Sure Mom, you always say that,” says Zak.

“Yeah, Mom, that’s the right thing to say,” noticeable, good-natured sarcasm in Daniel’s voice.

I look at Sage. She nods solemnly.

Yep. I do always say that. It is the right thing to say. Because it’s true.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday Post, inspired by the prompt, “This one time…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee and co-hosted by Jennifer from Dancing in the Rain.

Lost on Lombard

You can’t actually get lost on Lombard Street. It’s a pretty straight San Francisco street, running east-west for several blocks… until it’s not straight at all. For one block it becomes the “crookedest street in the world.”

399px-Lombard_Street_San_Francisco

As most streets in San Francisco do, Lombard climbs a steep hill, the likes of which make this City one of the most exciting and challenging to explore by foot, car or public transport. Breathtaking, panoramic vistas are promised and granted at the top of every hill, and most car rides rival a roller coaster in ascent and descent – complete with nausea and butterflies. Sidewalks in extremely hilly neighborhoods have tiny stairs built into them, to make walking down a little easier on the knees.

Bounded by water on three sides – the Bay to the north and east and the wild ocean to the west – from the peaks of most neighborhoods white sailboats are exquisitely visible, catching the breeze in the glittering blue, navigating their way around Alcatraz and Angel Island, some sailing all the way to and under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, gateway to the Pacific.

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The famous fog rolls inland over that bridge, clinging to its spans and shrouding the picturesque City in its misty, mysterious cloak. The clanging chimes of the cable cars are amplified in the swirling mist, as they inch their way up those steep, steep streets.

GGBridgeFog

For one block the hill of Lombard Street is too steep for cars. Eight hairpin turns were constructed to reduce the hill’s natural grade and make it possible to drive down. While it is affectionately known as “the crookedest street in the world” it’s probably not – there are at least two other equally or more crooked streets in San Francisco, but it is one of the City’s most famous attractions, and driving down is always a thrill (at least for us – perhaps the residents on that block of Lombard don’t feel quite the same way).

lombard-street So you can’t get lost on Lombard Street. And I have yet to get lost in San Francisco. Not only because the City is built mostly on a grid of streets running east-west and north-south, or because it has an area of just over 230 sq miles (600 sq km) which makes it pretty small. I’ve traipsed many of those foggy hills, watched 4th of July fireworks explode over the Bay, parked my car on the steepest streets, with my wheels curbed in on a downslope and out on the up (prevents accidental rolling, even with the brakes on!). I’ve played tourist at Alcatraz, on cable cars, at the top of Twin Peaks and in Golden Gate park. I’ve walked across the Bridge, tried to swim in the icy Pacific, and eaten sourdough bread at Fisherman’s Wharf.

What I’ve lost to San Francisco is my heart.

Lost on Lombard by OPI

Lost on Lombard by OPI

This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.