Saturday, March 30, 2013

Salvaging Toddlerhood

In terms of relatives, Mimi has been blessed. She is surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends who love her. And those who are far away, like Obachan and Ojichan, call often. She has even had the chance to meet two of her great grandparents.

But blessed as she is, there is still a big hole in her life when it comes to relatives - one she doesn't know about just yet. Mimi came just a little late to meet her paternal grandfather - my dad, Dave.  He saw me take my first real step into adulthood - passing away not long after attending my wedding in New York - but he simply could not hold out to see me become a father. I know it pained him at the end, recognizing that he wouldn't be there for my children. It pains me, too, particularly on days like today, when Mimi and I embark on adventures like those I shared with my Dad, and especially when I catch glimpses of him in her along the way.

My father, like his father before him and his son who followed, was a bit of a collector, a bit of a scavenger, and a bit of a romantic when it came to the hunt: tearing through the castoffs of society for jewels inadvertently left behind. Love of the old, the out-of-date, the "why would you want this?" has always been in me - particularly when it comes to cars, toys, and stereo equipment - but I wasn't sure if it would translate to Mimi? While the jury is still out, it does seem that there's hope that I may have a scavenger in training.

Today, with Mama on call and Mimi and I seeking adventure, we decided to throw potty-training caution to the wind and take a trip to Urban Ore, an architectural salvage service in Berkeley. In essence, it is a massive warehouse piled high with doors, windows, cabinets, old stoves, sinks, toilets - the detritus of hundreds of home demolitions.  To me, it is a playground.  And to Mimi? Well, not quite a playground, but it was a lot of fun.

We arrived at the warehouse around 10:00am. Mimi - who insisted on wearing her yellow galoshes and carrying her completely naked baby - was ready for action.
We hit her father's favorite section first - the used electronics.  There were some beauties, but nothing high-end enough (or esoteric enough) to quite catch our fancy.  Mimi was impressed by the amazing collection of CD players and tape decks. "Push the buttons!" she cried.  She seems to enjoy obsolete things. Maybe that's why she tends to have such a good time with me.
Over the selection of desks and tables hung a massive moving mobile of 2 liter soda bottles. Mimi was mesmerized. This gave me a chance to actually dig through a few bins before Mimi decided she wanted full attention back on her.
Outside we came across hundreds of tubs, toilets, and sinks. As we walked through Mimi got excited about all the sinks on the ground. "Someone needs to pick them up, Papa!  It's so messy!" Despite her objection to the mess, the sink arrangements didn't worry her all that much. Finding a toilet in a bathtub, however, blew her little mind.  "There's a toilet in the bathtub, Papa!  There's a toilet in the bathtub!  That's so silly. Why's a toilet there, Papa?"  For once, I couldn't answer.
After our adventure in the salvage yards, we headed over to the Berkeley Bowl to pick up some lunch. At the checkout, Mimi put on her best impersonation of Jack Nicholson's Joker from the original Batman film.
Back at home it was very apparent that Mimi had worked up a serious apetite. She took down both sushi and pizza - the ultimate marriage of east and west.
It was a great outing - if only a few hours long - and it gives me hope that in the years to come Mimi and I will be able to create some memories much like those my own father and I made. She may never be a collector, but as long and she enjoys spending some time hunting for bargains with her Papa, I'll be happy.

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