I spent Wednesday — the last day of a spontaneous week-and-a-half getaway to Los Angeles — in the heat of an 80-degree March afternoon, barefoot, in front of a tinsel-like stretch of the Pacific Ocean.
My nephew, Dash, newly turned two, squatted in the sand beside me, eyes fixed on a bird wetting its wings in the surf. “Bird,” he said, blinking with such force that his lashes, straight as sticks, created shadows down his cheeks. Then, noticing the distant hum of an engine overhead, he looked up, pointing at a cottony stream of clouds left in the wake of passing plane. “Plane,” he said.
“Dash,” said my brother, Max, “tomorrow, Shoko’s going to be on an airplane.”
Dash shoveled sand into a Smurf-blue plastic mold of a castle.
“The next time we talk, I’ll be in New York,” I said. “In the apartment I showed you on the phone, with the bus stop outside and the train going over the bridge.” I paused. “Beach today, city tomorrow — isn’t that crazy?”
He turned the mold upside down, revealing the crumbling architecture beneath it, mouth open as the turrets fell. Then, already at work building the next one, he answered me flatly, with what’s become his most-used (and most useful) word as of late: “yup.”