Alice Stiers was my grandmother, my dad's mom. She was sweet and sassy and sincere, all the best traits wrapped into one amazing woman. It's hard to describe my grandmother to someone who never met her and harder still to let people know just how huge an impact she made on me and how much I still miss her. The fact that my daughter will have Alice as her middle name fills me with a crazy amount of joy.
Alice was everything a grandmother should be. She had a boisterous laugh that would always make you smile, a powerful hug that at once made you feel at home, she was a great cook who made the best birthday cakes ever, she had unlimited patience (she put up with me, and yes, I was as big a smart-ass as a kid as I am now), and she gave an unlimited amount love, she adored and loved her family as much as anyone ever has, and it always showed.
I was lucky enough to know my grandmother for 23 years. One of my most prized possessions is a small stuffed bear she made me when I was born. Alice died of Parkinson’s in 2001 and the last several years of her life were not easy, but she never became overly negative or sad... I've met few people in this world stronger than Alice. Even in the roughest times, when she couldn't speak she would listen. When I would talk with her and tell her about my life I could tell she was drinking in every word with pride and love for her grandson. I've met few people in this world who are genuine 100% of the time, she was one.
One of the greatest compliments I've ever heard about Misty and I came from my grandfather when he told my dad that of everyone he'd known, Misty and I were most like he and Alice. They loved each other with a passion and dedication and friendship that puts the greatest romantic poems, movies and stories to shame.
Everything I could wish my daughter to be was embodied by my grandmother; kind, sassy, funny, outgoing, loving, respectful, smart, strong and talented (she played piano, sang and did I mention the amazing cook part). No parent can determine how their child will end up, you do your best and hope it all works out, and I know Samaire will have a part of Alice in her regardless of having her name, but I can't think of a better tribute to one of my favorite people and a better start to my newest love's life.
I love you both. Samaire - Alice, you'd of loved each other.
Names are so very important. They're you on paper, they're first impressions, they're embodiments of your spirit: the part of you present on people's lips, in their words, when you aren't there. . .
Naming our children is in many ways, the beginning of their life story. A true name is said to have power, to be mystical. To determine some piece of self.
And, so, of course, I took naming our little girl quite seriously. We had a short list of names, and we poured over what they meant; what they held.
We wanted something beautiful, something strong. Something different, something with meaning. Not just a good definition, but true meaning. To us. To now. To her, in decades to come.
We asked for votes from people we knew, but looking back - I think the moment we put all the pieces together it was pretty obvious what her name would be.
Samaire (sah-MEER-ah) Alice
A name not common. A name, we think, holds beauty and grace. A name she will be explaining how to spell and pronounce from now until forever. (Ha. Might as well torment her from the very beginning, no?)
Her initials will be SAS - something Sam and I both feel is utterly appropriate, even now, before we've truly met her.
When you first look up the meaning of the name Samaire, you get that it's a gaelic name that means "chosen" or "blessed one." Which is awesome, of course. A nice definition, made all the finer that its in Gaelic, the same language our wedding ring inscriptions are in . . . but alas, our friend Joyce (who actually speaks Gaelic) hasn't ever heard of the name and is a little dubious that it's truly Irish in origin. Which, you know, fair.
But upon further research, Sam discovered it's actually Latin for Elm tree. This was the point at which I fell in love with this name.
First, because the elm tree is the home of the gods. It stands for strength of will and great intuition.
Even better, to me it will always be a symbol of home.
Sam and I's first home, and Samaire's too. Elms line one of our favorite places in this city, the Literary Walk in Central Park.
The Literary Walk is a great mall lined with huge, beautiful American Elm trees (the favorite tree of Olmsted, designer of the park). They form a cathedral ceiling to the pathway, and are absolutely breath-taking no matter what time of year you pass beneath them.
We love this part of the park, and if you visit us you will no doubt walk it's length, ending up at the Bethesda fountain (another place dear to my heart).
I love that Samaire's name will forever be tied to this place. For so many reasons. We won't live here forever, and I want her to know she always have a piece of this city with her. She will always be, to me at least, a New York City Girl.
I also believe there are few things in this world that stand comparing Sam and I to as much as Central Park. It is beauty and wildness in the midst of steel and stone. It is crowds of people finding solitude. It is at once perfectly natural and completely contrived. It is a puzzle of contradictions. Yet the park itself would not be half so wondrous if not here in the midst of skyscrapers, and this city could not survive without this vast expanse of trees. They are at once wholly independent and completely intertwined.
Just like us.
So she'll have not just a piece of her first home with her, but a lot of why that means so much to her mom and dad. It's important, I think. It's not just a city or a location, it's a sort of spirit I want her to have surrounding her.
I want to begin her story rich in legend and myth; the kind of thing that grows without sense of time, and is filled with the strength of great love.
Of course, her middle name is no less important - but I believe I'll let Sam tell you all about that.
My friends Leslie and Andy are eagerly awaiting the arrival of little Adaela right now. She should be joining us here in this spring-induced world any day now, and part of me can't help but think the whole world is getting ready for her; trees blossoming and birds coming out of the winter-harbored silence.
I'm so excited for them. They're two of the greatest people know and will make the most amazing parents. I know that little girl will grow up in a home filled with love and laughter - and I can't imagine anything more wonderful.
It breaks my heart we're so far away - but it also sends me to the moon with joy to think our daughters will grow up together. That they will look forward to Halloweens in Orlando, with all the adults dressing up as silly-as-they-dare to go trick or treating with them. That they will tromp through Central Park in the fall together, hearing stories of when mom and dad lived there. How wonderful and hard and fun and amazing it was.
They will hear about how the moms were friends, even before there were dads. How they met in Chipotle to discuss heartbreak and hope. How they grew up together, without each other somehow - and then the world decided they needed each other and crossed their paths.
How it's just an example of how you should trust your path. How the higher power up there, whomever he or she might be, is truly looking out for all of us.
Because look! Look at our little found-family!
I can't wait.
So, Little Adaela, be kind to your mommy and daddy. I know they shall be ever so kind to you.
And know, know in your deepest heart of hearts, you have another family you might not see right away - or even very often - that loves you deeply. That prays for you in their own strange way. That couldn't be more excited to see you, to meet you - to shower you with kisses and tickles and hugs.
That adores you already.
Godspeed, little A. The world waits in joyous anticipation. Our garden is full of soft green grass and tulips, the birds have been singing - even the gray skies of our great city have turned blue for you.
See you soon!
(P.S. I don't know how I look so pregnant in the above photo, tho it's possible the gods shone down us for it, as it would be the only "both of us preggers!" pic Les and I would be able to take. It seems me looking pregnant has something to do with the planets' alignment, what day of the week it is and the just right outfit. Odd, I know. But true.)
I have felt a lot of guilt over the years - some self-inflicted, some as a result of comments thrown out by friends - over my choice of job. My career.
And it's caused me some heartache. I let it reach me in my core and make me doubt where I was and what I was doing. Even more importantly WHY I was doing it. It never felt legitimate. It always felt like I was selling out, being second-rate, or somehow not doing something as important as "making art." However one wants to define that ...
(Though in these past few years, I have grown in confidence and know now I've always been creating art, sending out messages: being "creative." But it took me a while to get there and feel comfortable with it. Confident in it.)
But then, from time to time I find bits of quotes that remind me exactly WHY I have chosen the path I have, like this one:
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Be a great storyteller and the world will be yours. - Andy Greenaway
I've always loved stories, I just choose to tell mine in a non-conventional way - and I'm happy that I'm finally coming to peace with that.
P.S. If you're interested in one of my career-heroes - click here and read an interview with Milton Glaser
Well, it's been a rough time of it lately. I feel like my heart's been torn out of my chest and haven't much wanted to talk about (or to) the outside world.
Last week was insane, and I still feel like I'm mourning. There seemed to be no time for it - it was my last week at Ogilvy and my friends turned out full force to throw me a going away/ baby shower party and it was amazing. Then we had friends in from out of town all weekend; and between no sleep, very little to eat and a general constant striving to be happy and normal -- I'm wiped.
I had Monday and Tuesday off, and yesterday was the first full day of my new job. It's very cool so far, and the people I work most closely with are pretty awesome.
I even have an office! With windows! I share it, but that's okay. I'm actually quite enjoying it.
just goes to show I guess that sometimes you amke a decision contrary to what seems like common sense and it ends up being the absolute best thing you could do.