November 1st, 2009
It’s 5:45AM and the weight of my daughter’s shadow teases my eyes open. Her nose brushes my ear, and a beat later, a soft tug on the covers tells me she is waiting to gain entrance to our bed. I open the sheets and she slides in, placing her head like a Jenga under my arm. A teeny peep from a few precious feet away belies the presence of our youngest, who is snuggled next to my husband. We lay there like content sardines, foot on foot, knee to knee, cheek on lip. The sun wrestles its way into the room, not taking no for an answer, and illuminates the golden in our daughters’ hair. We forgive the mellow intrusion.
Quite tired are we, although the girls will not admit it, not for a chocolate cake or even a million pieces of their beloved Halloween candy. At 6:20 the night before, a neighbor bedecked in Bat Man rang the doorbell and coaxed us all outside, ten minutes before our planned departure. We join the throng, trying in vain to keep our eyes trained on an angel and a butterfly princess fairy, traipsing and hopping and fluttering from door to door, sidewalk to sidewalk. We greet those we know, surprised and delighted to discover that Booger’s preschool teacher lives at the end of the cul de sac, and Toots’ classmate is just down the block. Open garages beckon, deck chairs line up, and kids delight in caldrons of dry ice and boxes of brains.
The lot of us make our way from one end of the street to the other, and soon it’s time to join our friends on their street, a two-minute car ride away. I grab the salad I’d made an hour earlier, and add a few last-minute avocado and extra gorgonzola. The kids beg me to hurry, but there’s one more thing. I search for the cake we’d bought for the school carnival the night before, the one they didn’t end up needing. I unearth it from underneath wings and coats and we’re on our way.
We spot the orange twinkle lights first, then the driveway bonfire. We know that inside chili bubbles, cheddar bread warms, and friends wait. Carved pumpkins flicker, one for each member of the family, a pumpkin face for him, a princess for her, a witch for mom, a cat for dad. The kids scamper, the adults settle, a timeworn contradiction of states of being. A certain security rests in these things. Like a flannel blanket that wraps and smoothes, or covers a family packed foot on foot, knee to knee, cheek on lip on a Sunday morning.
Thank you for these things.
You know who you are.