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Somewhere near Ellysium

June 24, 2013

We drove out into the country on Saturday afternoon, out of the limits of this not-large-but-not-small college town, into rolling hills, past two tiny towns, and out to visit friends who live in the country. The hills were green, and the day was beautiful, and getting out of town was somehow relaxing and thrilling and familiar. We’d never been there before, but were welcomed warmly and after showing us their chickens and turkeys, their little boy, who’d clearly been looking forward to this for a while, took us to the garage where he’d charged up a mini four-wheeler for Dot to ride.

He showed her how to ride it, helped her figure out turning, and then they took turns. And then he rode it around while she chased him, peals of laughter streaming behind them in the late afternoon air. And the grown ups went to look at the garden while the kids and the dogs played.

This little boy was just Teddy’s age. Almost five. And my heart cracked open a bit to see how well they played together.

I have plenty of idealistic fantasies of Teddy and Bea playing together. I even love their names together and am sad that I don’t get to say “Teddy and Bea” very often. She has friends to play with at school, but when it comes to constant playmates, she has her daddy and me, and both of us are often distracted by unfortunate necessities like work and the need to make sure we all eat. Besides, grown ups just aren’t the same.

None of my idyllic imaginings matched the happiness I saw on my daughter’s face as she played with this little boy, though. I don’t know quite what to do with that.

Of course, they were new to each other, and novelty is an attraction all on its own, but he was so patient with sharing his toys and showing her around even when she upset him by moving his cars and not doing things the right way. They sat next to each other at dinner, played with the dogs together, ran all over the yard together, crawled into the baby’s crib together, ran up and down the stairs together.The adults sat and listened for the occasional shrieks and laughs, watched the dogs’ trajectories in order to figure out where the kids were.

And for a good deal of this time, I was holding a three-month-old baby, marveling at his tiny fingers and also at the way the old bouncing motions came back to me so easily.

By the end of the evening, when it was dark and the super moon was shining down on us in all its glory, I wanted us to move in with these people.

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