Eva and Leo are my niece and nephew.  They are adorable.

I live in New York.  I see them twice a year.  I miss them.

Stephanie (my sister in Michigan) has tried to alleviate this problem by setting aside time to Skype each week, and we seem to have found the perfect time, between ten and eleven (a.m.).  I have showered and had coffee by then, and the kids are up, breakfasted, and shiny like pennies.  This morning was such a morning.

I almost can’t imagine what it would have been like to have lived far from family in different generations.  Well, I suppose that isn’t true, it just means I wouldn’t have known them.  Eva is about three and half years old.  She does gymnastics, her favorite color is yellow, and she likes kittens.  Leo turns two today (I sang him happy birthday at the end of our conversation).  He has red hair, a thing for lawn mowers, and likes everything his sister likes.  Now telephone conversations with young children can be difficult, filled with long pauses, and careful decipherment of phrases.  With Skype though I can see them, and it makes all the difference (even if I do feel now and then like I’m on an episode of the Jetsons).  Let me explain:

Eva and Leo they travel with me / Everywhere that I may go

Every conversation becomes show and tell.  For instance, this morning the following objects were brought to the computer: a toy tractor, a medal received for feats of gymnastic prowess, and plush stuffed animal dogs named Woof Woof and Puppy.  A book called “Good Night New York” made an appearance, and then got a ride in a toy truck.  For a few minutes, Eva (who was then off camera) would sporadically yell “DONUT SANDWICH!”  When Stephanie left briefly to tend to her newborn, Audrey, Eva and Leo quickly began to jump on the couch for me (this time, thank God, on camera).  You don’t get these things in a phone conversation.

I travel quite a bit for work.  In the past two years I have acted in plays across the country, in Washington, DC; St. Louis, MO; Greensboro, NC; and Burlington, VT.  I may have qualms with Actor’s Equity (the stage actor’s union) on occasion, but shipping boxes they do well.  If I work out of town, my contract allows me to mail something like three hundred pounds of boxes (in addition to lugagge) to and from the theater.  I usually just pack one box, with essential items like that French press I always mention, and magnetized pictures of Eva and Leo that I put on my fridge.  Not matter where I am, they are always there to welcome me home.

The link below is a simple demo recording of my portrait of Eva and Leo.  The story behind the chorus – running around the house ten times – will have to wait.

Ten Times Round the House by Matthew Carlson