I liked today a lot.

July 22, 2014

I love days where I get a taste of a little bit of all of my favorite things.

Today, I spent the morning at my job at Quincy College, talking to prospective students and exchanging information about our weekends with the lovely people I work with. I spent the afternoon tending to my kids, picking them up and sending them off and hearing their tales about camp and basketball. A class at the Y where I worked so hard halfway thru it looked like I had just stepped out of the shower. A swim at the town pool with my daughter, a turkey caesar salad with my son, a walk with Sophie the Most Forgiving of All Dogs and Creatures, listening to Ryan Adams and playing along on the flute my mom bought for a thousand years ago and now here I am, putting it all down, or I guess, putting it out there…

Actually I don’t remember a day that I successfully juggled work, and kids, and working out, and downtime, and dog time and topped it all off a little bit of warbling on my instrument and a little bit of rambling on the keyboard.

Damn, I hope I can pull it off again tomorrow. I liked today a lot.

I just have to figure out how to fit in lunch with a friend and putting away the damn laundry.

I’m too tired right now to think about laundry.

Oh yeah, I have kids that rely on me for trips the yogurt bar and fancy sneakers-

Guys… who wants to fold and who wants to stack and who wants to bring mom some ice water?

Maybe Ten Steps AWay

July 1, 2014

This is the weekend our next door neighbors finally packed up their things and moved. Well, that’s not true. They’ve been packing their things for three months now. I’ve been mourning their departure for about six months, when Thao first told me they had rented a home in Atlanta. So we’ve been saying good bye for a long, long time.

Saturday night, I took my daughter and the two girls that lived next door for so long up to Canobie Lake Park. I wanted to give them one last adventure together,and get them away from the boxes and the trash bags and all of the detritus that clutters a house that is being left. I let the older daughter bring a friend, as a bribe to get her to come too. It’s lonely at Canobie, with four pre-teen and teenage girls, all of whom would rather do anything than go on the chicken ride with me. But I brought a book. I had decided it was not my night to be a martyr, but to be a good mom and a great friend.

Thao, the mom, thinks she doesn’t speak very good English but I always understood what she was saying. We worried about our children together, while I stood in her beautiful kitchen with the shiniest floors in the world. She loves bananas and etsy and beautiful clothes. She has a smile so big I would laugh whenever she smiled at me.

Tue is the youngest. She grew up with Katy. They made videos of themselves dancing along to pop songs, and I’d watch them tonight, but then I will not only miss the Vo’s but the two little girls that aren’t so little any more. Tue is crazy smart. She told me yesterday that she is concerned today’s youth are becoming too disconnected from the world. I’m glad she’s one of today’s youth, she gives me hope.

Thanh is older, she’s in my son Colin’s grade. She is level headed, and kind, and hates fruit with an intensity most people save for brussels sprouts or really bad winters. She used to be shy and nervous. I remember once taking her with my family to Scream Fest, and spending the evening walking around looking for something that didn’t look very scary. I think I ate a lot o junk food that night. Now she is self possessed and graceful. If she is still nervous, I think it’s mostly about being made to eat fruit. And since it is unlikely she will ever find herself in a situation where that happens, I think she’ll be fine. Better than fine. Thanh is and will be amazing.

I never knew their Dad’s name until yesterday. It’s Hue, though I’m sure I spelled it wrong. He would show up at our door with huge bowls of noodle soup, or massive slivers of cake, or platters of shiny chicken wings. He is the only man I know that looks good in red pants. He loves his family.

And Coco. Coco was their little mini pinscher. Coco is a mean, nasty, yappy little dog and Coco probably loves me better than anyone. Ever. Than my mom even. Being loved like that feels really good, even when he’s trying to jam his sharp toothed little head into my mouth.

There is much more to say. But I’m going to let it be tonight. In life there is love and change and loss. And there is the blessing of truly getting to know another family, and the thousands of memories they have given us over the years.

Tonight, after we had said our goodbyes, my daughter grabbed me by the hand. She said- “Come on, Mom, we have to go stand by the drive way and wave good bye.

I had, like I mentioned, laundry to put away. So many phone calls to make. An online test I need to complete for my job. A library book that needed finding, and a dishwasher that needed loading.

But I followed her outside. We stood at the front of the house,by the porch that Katy and Tue played in all winter long. I’m really not sure what they did in there, just that it involved boxes and plastic dolls and a chalkboard. We waited in the twilight, on the stoop, next to an abandoned coffee cup. Ten minutes went by. I got impatient, all that damned stuff pressing down like a thousand heavy boxes on me. “We’re waiting, Mom.”

We got bit by mosquitos. We talked about books and camp and being nicer to her older brother. I think I saw a bat.

And when they pulled out, we waved goodbye and we smiled and we told them good luck.

And then we walked home in the dark. But it wasn’t far. Ten steps maybe. They were as close to us as neighbors can be. And really, really, really wonderful friends.