First Birthday

Today was our daughter’s first birthday, and after we took a photo of her to match the photo from her birthday, and she’d opened presents (some new clothes, a backpack shaped like an owl, some books and toys) we headed out to the Dahlia Bakery for breakfast. Our daughter scrabbled in the dirt while we ate muffins full of fried eggs, and then as the sun was shining we walked down to the ferry terminal and took the boat over to Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Island is half an hour from Seattle, and is comprised of a single street with some pricey little shops and boutiques, and around that some nice holiday homes and a marina. It’s a perfectly pleasant place to spend a day, although like most such places there’s a real air of unreality.

We ate ice cream, served to us by a girl with a Californian accent and a mood too good to seem believable. We took our daughter to the playground and made her go down the slides (which made her frown discontentedly at us). We looked at expensive bric-a-brac in posh shops, and then I had a hummus sandwich, as if that was a reasonable thing to do, and then we walked back to catch the ferry home again. The sun was still warm, our daughter went to sleep for almost two hours, life was pretty easy.

In the evening, not having had Mexican food for almost a week, I took my parents to Mama’s Mexican Kitchen, a restaurant recommended by the concierge. As soon as I got there, I realized I’d visited several years ago, for a quite disgusting mound of cheese and sour cream. How I could have forgotten about the ludicrous amount of Elvis themed decor I just don’t know. I’m not sure if the huge painting of what appears to be Courtney Love in the Garden of Eden was there last time or not; PTSD may have blocked it from my mind.

I didn’t realize that my parents’ tolerance to heat was so low. I think nothing of eating Mexican food, but for them salsa was far too fiery, as was the guacamole. I was just glad I persuaded my mother to order tacos, rather than an inevitably-enormous burrito. I wasn’t as good at protecting my father, who got a tostado. That was advertised as being similar to a taco, but was more like a plate stacked high with cheese and meat, something he gamely struggled through.

At the other end of the table, the child-sized quesadilla (that was anything but) was dispatched with aplomb by our daughter, demanding spoonful after spoonful of rice and beans, before insisting on being let out of her highchair to run amok among the clientele. So she likes Mexican.

I had four bean tacos, which were good. I’m not sure what the horror show was that I ordered before – something to forget about, obviously.

After the main course, we had a flan that we tried to prop up a candle on. Our daughter was baffled by it all; just as, I expect, she was baffled by our photo opportunity with an effigy of Elvis outside the restaurant, or our wandering back via the Abyssinia Supermarket, where my wife was propositioned while I hung around uneasily outside, remembering a dark night and a bad burrito years ago.
Baby, looking at her first birthday candle
We got home, put the child to bed, and were ready to collapse. I wonder if next year we’ll be stronger.

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