It's 10:42 a.m. and so far, everything is going is planned. I try to remember that this should not lull me into a false sense of certainty that the rest of day will also go as planned. I also try to remember that when things don't go as planned, sometimes something even better happens.
On Saturday night, we decided to go out to see the Starlight Parade. "We have to go," I said, "When will it ever again be the Starlight Parade on a Saturday night when it is neither raining nor sermon-prep time?" So we all rallied from what had been a relaxing day and squeezed into the MAX train heading downtown.
On the train, the party had already started. The guy behind us smelled like a beer and the teenager standing next to Jeff spilled a little puddle of Red Bull on him, but we were all in good humor (even Jeff, once the Red Bull stickiness had been cleaned up thanks to a mom with a stroller and a box of baby wipes). The woman sitting across from me told me it was her 23rd birthday and she was going to see a band but she didn't know which one and she didn't even care, as long as she could get out for once.
We made it through 4 stations before the train ground to a halt at the Washington Park/Zoo stop. E pulled his hood over his head and played a video game on a phone. The intercom came on and I couldn't hear it, of course, but the birthday girl told me that it said there would be a few minutes delay because of the Starlight Run. The Voice crackled on five minutes later. And then five minutes after that.
J and E and I looked at each other and said all together, "Let's get off the train." Even in our little family we have learned that if we all have the same thought at the same time, it's a good idea to pay attention to that. So we got off, and rode the elevator out of the train tunnel and up, up, up.
We were planning to see a parade.We would never plan to take a train to the arboretum at twilight, to walk along the darkling trails, to listen to the perfectly quiet quietness of the woods at evening.
The sun was setting, sending long shadows through the trees.The dogwoods are blooming right now and shining like stars. E ran ahead and walked back, ran ahead and walked back, just like when he was much smaller. We tried to reach all the way around a tree with our arms but the tree was too big and old. We spiraled up the silent bowl of the war memorial. We stood under the flag, still flying I guess from Memorial Day, and E got us to sing "Oh Say Can You See?" although none of us hit that high note at the end. Except for another family of kids laughing and rolling down a hill, we hardly saw another soul.
On the empty train back to our car, E pushed his hood off and leaned his head on my shoulder. "This was so much better than a parade, mommy."