I’m sitting in the red oversized chair in my living room with a strong cup of coffee. The pot of coffee is still brewing, making those wet grumbly noises and almost drowning out the sound of my neighbor’s violin. (Hallelujah Chorus) The windows behind me face east, and it’s pretty early; clear sunlight is coming in and settling on the sleeping bags and flip flops and back packs still sitting out from the kids’ return from their camp sleepover.
It was a really long week. For all of us here. For varying reasons. Friday afternoon I was at my desk at work and my cell phone started buzzing. It was Nathan, wanting to know if we could go out to eat at our favorite place.
I stayed at work until almost 6, alone in the office listening to the construction guys in the space next door and their incessant hammering. When I got home, the kids were strewn about the living room, tangled hair, barefooted, in dirty clothes. Getting ready to go was a nightmare. I was in raging bitch mode and I was mean with the hairbrushing and I was impatient and I said over and over how this was a bad idea and we should just stay home. I made three of my kids cry because I was being mean. At one point Sophie and Nathan were in the bathroom with me so I could do something with their matted, ratty hair. I looked in the mirror at their disappointed faces and even though I knew I was being horrible, I just kept right on, threatening to cut their hair really short if they couldn’t be bothered to brush it. It was Friday night and I hadn’t seen them since Thursday morning and I stood there not understanding why I couldn’t just be nice. I don’t even know now.
Nathan didn’t want me to come to dinner with them. He wouldn’t talk to me for awhile. When he got near me I pulled him close and whispered in his ear that I was sorry. He stood there stiffly, not answering, still angry with me. I’m sorry I brushed your hair too hard, I said. It wasn’t fair of me to do that.
Getting out turned out to be a good idea. We found a table outside and squeezed two extra chairs around it. We were cramped but happy. I listened to the kids tell me about their week at camp. About tie dying shirts and climbing rock walls, sleeping outside, hiking, campfires and singing. They were silly and happy, the crappy twenty minutes we’d just had at home totally forgotten.
We walked down the street to a gelato place, and sat outside again, this time near a guy hanging out playing his guitar. He started off with one of my most favorite songs ever, Folsom Prison Blues. (Bet you wouldn’t have guessed that, huh?) Then he played Don’t Fear the Reaper and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. We sat at our table, the kids getting ice cream all over themselves, all of us dancing in our seats, the kids loudly singing along. When they realized that the guitar guy had a cup out for money they swarmed me for cash. I only had a dollar or so in change, and John had maybe a dollar, but they were so happy to be able to go up to the guy and say hello and drop coins into the cup. As we were leaving I ducked back into the cafe for napkins and the guitarist was there in line. I hope your kids liked the songs, he said. Oh, we all did, I told him. Especially the Johnny Cash.