It was a cold and rainy night. A cold, rainy Friday night. A cold, rainy, gray day in a very long and frustrating week. I had worked later then I planned. Result! I had to and rush and still got to practice late (again). From there I the. rushed to the store to get the contribution for his team party. Being the awesome mom that I am that meant a bag of chips and some salsa. Because that is a poor representation of the mom I want to be I splurged for the fresh salsa with pineapple and organic chips. Don’t judge. It was a last ditch effort to appear as if I have my she-yite together.
Despite my best effort we were-sigh-going to be late to his gathering. The favorite adult male in my life-JEEVES (the voice of my phone) told me to turn right, turn left, etcetera. About the 3rd turn my heart lurched. “Whoa”
My fella said.
We stopped at the guard gate and gave our names. Yes. Guard. Gate. Armed with a live, paid, uniformed security guard that welcomed us to the neighborhood in impressive, accented English. Wonder if they paid extra for that?
Here is the scene: baby girl wailing in the background because I told the guard only one of us would be staying for the party. Stud-muffin beside me is sitting straighter and seems to getting more and more nervous. I am thanking the guard in my squeaky-high-nervous voice while mentally chastising myself for the hastily purchased bag-o-chips. I barely remember to take my foot off the brake because I am mentally cataloging all the things I should have made for him to bring. What good are all these pinned party recipes if I am never going to use them?? Darn Pintrest.
I finally take a break from my silent, mental dress down and drive. We pull in and WHAM! I am in neighborhood nirvana. Picturesque is an understatement. It’s charming. It’s Mr. Rogers meets literal Sesame Street. It’s my bucket list neighborhood—It’s seaside Florida. It’s not houses, these are homes.
At the stop light I glance over and into perfection. This house is a glow. The light is warm and spills from big, clear, pained windows onto the sidewalk. Window treatments frame and decorate the windows even from the outside. Lamps bathe each room
In soft light. Bookshelves line one wall and are full of books and what appear to be framed pictures and momentos. A cozy, overstuffed chair is perched against the shelves and just begs to be used by an avid reader with a good book. And…and…a fire offers warmth and exudes comfort to those inside.
And there in the light, in the warmth, in the comfort a family is silhouetted. An entire family. A whole family sitting in the house, warm by the fire and Enjoying a rainy, dreary Friday night
I am not a stalker. We didn’t park and stare in the windows for hours on end. This was a glimpse, a glimmer from a 2 second stop at a stop sign. On a Tuesday I might not have even noted 90% of it. On a Wednesday I might have briefly noted the beauty of the houses or the quaintness of the neighborhood and then moved on to think about my to-do list or the song on the radio (which would have been Let it Go because it’s always Let it Go). On a Monday I might have paid attention to the neatness of it all or to the ambience all around me but would have probably have been distracted by the had gauge flashing empty. On a Thursday I might have driven right by. But today was a Friday. And on Fridays I am raw and tired and out of sorts. On this Friday the family and the fire and the sense of peace and security of it all are what I noticed most because today that’s what I was missing the most.
The wailing child and I dropped big boy off at his party. I walked him to the door because it seemed like the MOM thing to do. Baby girl went too. The swim team was already there and gathered around the table so I didn’t get to thank the hostess. The team just called out “come in” as they could see him at the 3/4 beveled glass French door. He ducked inside. How it must have looked. Us, in the rain, standing forlornly outside in the cold looking on the merry, warm tableau inside. I heard someone say,’there is a little person outside…’ But I didn’t hear the rest because the little person starting wailing again. She was crying,”I want to stay! I want to stay! I want to stay!” I hoisted her up-or tried to because she weighs a ton and scurried to the car. It took everything I had not to tell her that I wanted to as well. She wanted to stay because that’s where her brother was. I wanted to stay too but for entirely different reasons. But it wasn’t my house, wasn’t my life—it wasn’t even my party. I was just an outsider looking in.