The Finer Things in Life
Wrapped in a bright orange scarf covered with swirls and a taupe wool hat to match, I felt a bit chic as I climbed into the driver’s seat. The three smiling faces of the Littles, as we call them, met my glance through the rearview mirror. “Buckle up!” I announced, “ We are off on an adventure in the city!”
Vivid seasonal colors in elegantly adorned shop windows, lined the narrow streets of the center. I felt tempted to linger, but obeyed my mental list of tasks, as I grasped the hands of Ezra and Zion and kept one eye on Emmaus, who held to the edge of my pocket. My efficiency fell behind the competitive goals of our three rascals who most certainly intended to medal in the Naughtiness Olympics!
To our delight, a fabulous play structure stood in a wide cobblestoned area and beckoned the children in pied-piper fashion. Heating lamps hung above benches, while the rich aroma of coffee wafted alluringly from a well-situated espresso bar. I timed each of our children on the best of the climbing equipment. Short lines began to form, as other children waited for my thumbs-up for the beginning and ending of their turns. I find it interesting that we often seek order and boundaries from others, even in the freedom of creativity.
A toddler in a grass green colored jacket and brick red corduroy pants reached for a grown-up. The caramel toned fingers of his chubby hand fell in sharp contrast to the creamy white skin of his daddy, who matched his son in clothes of impeccable taste and urban design. I wondered if the intertwining of their lives had also begun through adoption. Their tender greeting to a second caucasian daddy gave me the answer to my un-posed question.
Rambunctious play gave way to the unraveling of moods. My wavering patience remained intact long enough to find a café. Sun-chips, soda, half-sandwiches, coffee and peanut-butter-chunk cookies quelled the rising storm as all munched merrily. Overheated by the complexity of the moment, I whipped off my cap and scarf. In a flush of embarrassment I found a plastic purchasing tag, still attached to my taupe fashion statement!
Just then, a beautiful young woman caught my eye. She stood at the counter beside her father. Thick brunette curls trailed along her shoulders onto a fuchsia cashmere sweater, which embraced her lean frame. Her dress was of pink lace, the kind any girl would adore. The elegant man wore a black trench coat, charcoal tweed pants and expensive shoes. As she turned around I noticed the strange nature of her shoes, for they were flat rubber sandals. In them she began to shuffle gauchely toward a seat as she held her cookie, she hesitated every few seconds. Her glassy eyes anxiously watched as her father pulled his chair in close beside her. The young lady mumbled a few words, and then looked to him again for affirmation, which he gently gave. As they rose to leave, the father placed his raincoat over her frail shoulders and I caught his eye. He wore an expression of strength and steady resolve.
I gathered up our mess, as Zion spilled his drink, Ezra squeezed the remnants of the cookie in her fist and Emmaus wiped crumbs from his pants. Our vibrant crew raced to the car as I followed, choking back my tears. My heart felt moved by the tender stories I’d witnessed in the day, which reflected dignity amidst struggle lived out loud by strangers before me.
I threw my hat and scarf onto the vacant seat beside me and eyed my rascally crew through the rearview mirror. Ours had been an adventure in discovering the finest things in life.