I’m maybe six years old.  I am sitting on the curb on Delaware Ave. and Allen St. in downtown Buffalo, with my cousins, and I am drinking a Shamrock Shake for the first time.  It tastes like magic.  We are waiting for the St. Patrick’s Day parade to start.  Our grandfather is walking in it, and we are excited to see him.  Afterwards, we go to Early Times, where Grandma works, for corned beef and cabbage.

I am 13 years old and my friend Sabine and I decide to ride on our school’s centennial float.  Poor Sabine had to wear her cheerleading uniform, and it was a particularly freezing day.  Snow and everything.  We had to walk several blocks to find my father after, and he bought us hot chocolate to warm us up.  After that we go to the Blackthorn, formerly Early Times, where Gram no longer works, but they still serve great corned beef.

I am 20…something.  The night before, I closed a show and got a little drunk at the cast party, which resulted in me literally stumbling out of a bar and popping my knee.  And yet, the next day I trek the ten or so blocks from the theater to the spot in front of New Era hat store where my family has gathered.  Instead of going to dinner, I, like an idiot, walk about twenty blocks to hear my favorite local band play.  My grandmother’s parting words: “Don’t flirt with any men in skirts!!” (She was referring to kilts.)  Oh, Gram.  That was kind of the whole point.

I am 33, and I have just gotten married.  I have stopped going to Delaware Ave. because none of the family makes it down there anymore.  It’s too big.  It’s too cold.  I have started going to Buffalo’s other, smaller parade in the valley.  I have started taking Hubs and the kids with me, and we are met by my parents.  The family has also given up on dinner at the Blackthorn, which is for the best because there’s about 50 of us now.  Instead, we have a corned beef cookoff at my grandparent’s house.  It’s better than the Blackthorn, in my opinion.

I am 36.

There will be no corned beef cookoff, because my grandfather had a stroke last month and is in the hospital.  That band I loved so much way back when was also supposed to be in town, but the gig was cancelled.  And then today, they cancelled both of the parades.  Adult brain and kid brain are arguing pretty intensely right now.  On one hand, I am annoyed.  It’s an outdoor event, and we have no confirmed cases in the county.  On the other hand, I can’t get sick.  If I get sick, any kind of sick, then I get SICK, and that’s unacceptable.  And my parents aren’t exactly spring chickens.  They can’t be out there getting coughed on.  And the kids!  What would I do, make them wear latex gloves and masks?

So yes, I’m mad the thing is cancelled, but I understand why.

And truth be told, I think I’m just mad that I won’t see my family altogether.  They’re all taking shifts at the hospital, and I can’t go for a myriad of health reasons.  If they move Poppa to a nursing home, that might be a possibility.

But this brings me back around to the parade getting cancelled.  I shouldn’t be around anyone who could make me sick.  And also, I do remember learning about Spanish flu parade in 1918.  So adult brain figures this was a good call on behalf of the city.

Kid brain wishes I was sitting on the curb sipping a Shamrock Shake, and waiting for Poppa to walk by.