Here's to the funky leggings-boots-and-sweater lady with the long brown ponytail and an ochre yellow scarf flung over her arm. The one who's son abandoned his sister the minute Lexi dashed past and said I am following that girl. It must have been the headband she was wearing today, the one with the huge red flower. Or maybe the wild abandon with which she threw herself into the climbing frame and made her way up without looking back.
The lady i finally got to talking to too late in our day, when it was almost time to go home ... lunch eaten and children worn out. That i had to drag myself away from because once we started we couldn't stop, but there were tired children and a yellow bus coming towards our home in the near future - a bus we were almost late for.
The one who looked a little different, standing across the room when we arrived ... something about her sense of style, the way she smiled. I liked her right from the start. And then she told me about living in Manhattan and the grandparents who owned a bakery downtown when she was small. About moving back to the city after college and then to Glasgow with a new baby. Two years there then back here again, more time in the City, this time with another addition to the family. And then to London for another two year project, and some time in Washington somewhere in between and another baby joined in. No nannies or babysitters for her, altho many eyebrows were raised in surprise (she said) ... three children under the age of 5 and she had the best time in London during those two years. Loved the city. We shared stories and memories and impressions and did you ever go here ... did you see ... did you try .... did you love this too.
I told her about homesickness and wanting to put down roots and she told me about some nice areas to live in here, and then she said : good for you, what a nice idea that is, the roots. but i myself, i can't deal with that - i want to keep renting and moving, don't make me live for 30 years in one house. No thank you. Her expression as she said this was priceless, nose scrunched up in distaste. if we got the chance to leave again, i wouldn't hesitate, even for a minute. And i thought to myself that i used to say exactly the same thing. I remember thinking that too, wondering when the next adventure would begin, which town i was moving to next. As we stand on the brink of buying a home and trying to settle down, with me all over the place sometimes in panic at moving to a new town and the unfamiliarity of it all (what, me? who is this person?) , she was a breath of fresh air for me today, badly needed.
Reminding me that we really don't all have to follow the rules - not all the time anyway. That things can be different. That we can create the lived we want, if we just try hard enough (and accept that there will be sacrifices). Reminding me about that sense of adventure I used to feel so much more of the time. About new beginnings and the wonder of living fully, letting doors open and not being afraid to step through. It's all about our choices and as long as we have some, i think we're pretty well off after all.
As we drove home Lexi said softly from the back seat : Mommy, it's nice making new friends.
And altho the leggings-and-ponytail-lady lives in Bergen County and we probably won't ever bump into each other again, i had to smile and say:
Baby, you are so right. I was actually just thinking the same thing.