neopolitan world

I'm not really sure how to start this story. Stories usually just germinate and begin in my mind. From the beginning...aaaaand GO!

But the mind of a writer (if I could be so glorious) a curious thing. Where do I begin? How do I draw this picture with words?

Do I start with this morning? Maggie stopped me driving past her bus stop and asked if I could take her to school after she retrieved a forgotten item from the house. On the way, I was telling her a funny story about something Dan said that tickled me. I ended by telling her, "...and then he pointed his finger and said, 'Go sit in the corner.'"
She giggled so much that she bumped up against the passenger door laughing. All along our sunrise Main Street drive she had a fit of the giggles.

"It is impossible to describe to people," she said, "how or why it is SO FUNNY when he says that!"
"Go sit in the corner." She imitated him...and fell apart laughing again.

It's something about how he says it to Maggie and me. Standing in front of him like recalcitrant children. Me at 5'3", Maggie at 5'6"...both of us from a long line of smart alecks. A long line of teasers.

But he does it first and foremost because he knows Maggie and I will dissolve into laughter when he does it.

"Go sit in the corner." And we are helpless against it. He's an easy guy to love. We adore him.

Or do I begin with my conversation with Will last night? Will, who is at Webster University finishing his last year. He texted to ask me how things are going I answered.

"Oh, you know. Same ol', same ol'. Maggie's eating all the vanilla and chocolate ice cream and I'm stuck eating all the strawberry in the Neopolitan. Nothing new here."

He said, "But strawberry's the best part."
I said, "See? This is why we miss you." Will completes Maggie and me. Our little just-the-three-of-us neopolitan world.

We still have a favorite story, Probably from when he was a sophomore in high school. That would make Maggie in third grade or so. Maybe second. Maybe he was a junior. At any rate, he was telling a story at dinner and he is usually the straight man. He'll leave Maggie and me in stitches but never laugh at his own joke.

But for whatever reason this time Will saw the humor in his own joke and he started laughing too. That is Maggie's and my favorite story. The time Will laughed at his own joke. It was the sweetest moment. He's an easy guy to love. We adore him.

Do I talk about my grandpa who has been on my mind lately? A man who was our comforter. A man who cooked our dinners, picked us up from school, gave us money when we needed it. A man who hollered the house down when he was annoyed, but who I was never afraid of a day in my life. He was the home maker. And in so many ways he was home to me. He was an easy man to love. I miss him like a piece of my heart. I adore him.

Do I talk about my stepdad? A man who worked from home. A man who had so very little Indulgence for himself but who always loved to be the straight man to my mom and me. He's an easy man to love. We all three adore him.

Will, in fact, followed in his footsteps and eventually became the straight man to Maggie and me. And now it's Dan who inadvertently follows in Will's footsteps. All three leave us in stitches. We girls, we are loved.

A woman once said to me, apropos of nothing really. Truthfully she was a woman I'd only met 10 minutes prior. But she walked up to me in a line for a potluck of sorts. This was years ago, but she said something I thought of today, a long ago breeze of a memory.

She said, "I told my husband...LOOK at that girl. That girl is LOVED. Only a girl who's been loved all of her life has that kind of shine on her."

Isn't that the sweetest thing you've ever heard? And for some reason I remembered it today. At an odd moment, really. Something silly had happened in the classroom and it struck me as so funny that I instinctively grabbed this little sweetpea who made me laugh and gave him the biggest hug while I was laughing. And then a couple of kids around us got the giggles too. It was the funnest moment. One of those moments that is pure happiness. Pure joyful noise.

So I guess my story wraps up even before I know how to begin it. I have been loved. I know that I have taught my children how to be loved, and how to love with a light heart. And I hope I can teach my other children--my students today and across the years--the same.

And to you? Sometimes love is heavy, the lord knows it is. But today? I wish for you something hilarious. I wish for you an impromptu hug. I wish for you a delighted reaction that you can't hold back.

I hope for the brightest.
I hope for the best.
Even if it's only one single moment--I hope it's a great one.

~originally published September 2018

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