Thursday, April 14, 2011

Waldorf New York

Yesterday I took the BoltBus up to New York City with my friend Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a character in her own right, deserving of her own novel. She taught me, in Mrs. Anderson's second-grade class, how to give people the finger. Unfortunately she had the translation wrong, telling me it meant "the devil," and so when my mother called me a "little devil" at some point that week I asked, "You mean this?" and held up my middle finger. This resulted in my mother chasing me in circles around our condo, which had a centrally-located kitchen that was good for roller skating and evading an enraged parent. Eventually she caught me and I got a better grasp of the meaning of the gesture. Elizabeth is also the friend who told me that blue crayons taste like blueberry. She was wrong.

Our first stop in New York was Artisanal Bistro. I realize most people probably don't fantasize about cheese, but I do, and so walking into Artisanal was like the scene in that "Harold and Kumar" movie where they actually find themselves at White Castle.

For privacy reasons, I've edited this photo so you can't see Elizabeth pretending to lick the entire composition of meats and cheeses. And this was just the appetizer; there was also fondue. Four pounds of cheese later, we waddled down Broadway to Fishs Eddy and then to ABC Home.

I was okay at ABC Home until we found the kids' department. There, right in the middle of the room like a bulls-eye target at which to aim my credit card, was a table of Waldorf paraphernalia. Round-edged dollhouses, a length of cotton gauze draped just so, Ostheimer Indians, Kathe Kruse knights and beautiful soft-sculpture woodland animals. But wait, there's more:

I wanted to give birth to another baby immediately, perhaps on one of the $3,200 chaise lounges in the adjacent room, and start shopping post-haste. Really, I was overwhelmed. I've always loved the material trappings of Waldorf childhood, but now it all strikes me from so many different angles. And some of them are paradoxical: this is Judy's classroom, where I lived in my head for two years, but this is also the world I yearned to give my own children but which I could never afford. At once it's a world that is absolutely mine, and absolutely not.

I don't think I'll ever lose that feeling when it comes to Waldorf. As I've mentioned before, my oldest son did attend a Waldorf preschool for several months, but I would never pretend to be an insider in that community or way of life. At best, I've been an unintentional spy-- but one with mixed loyalties, for sure. I love being part of a public school system that welcomes and annoys everyone equally. The purest and most perfect childhood shouldn't be accessible only to children whose parents make $150K a year and up. I know that.

But gosh, those dollhouses are cute.

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