On July 3rd they closed our office early. I had driven, so I got home in record time, and then Geoff and I went to the grocery store together. Afterward, we went home and watched one episode from Season 2 of Lost, because we can't get enough of that show. Then we got the bikes and bike trailer out of the basement, and rode over to Katie's daycare to pick her up from school. Geoff went in to get her, and when they came out and she saw that I was there with the "BIKES?!" she was very excited (actual mouth agape and everything). We fastened her into the trailer and rode home.
After we got home, we rested a little bit (it was hot out), then Geoff fired up the grill and I made chocolate chip cookie dough. Katie cracked the eggs - she cracks them, then I open them up. Geoff set the table in the back yard for dinner. I called my brother Josh to wish him a happy birthday, and Katie and I sang into the phone. Around 7 or so, our friends Heather & Arek and their dog Phoebe (our neighbors during the time I was pregnant and for the first year plus after Katie was born) arrived, came upstairs, and started making mojitos from scratch. We haven't seen them in too long, and as we talked to them, I kept thinking how good it was to see them. They are smart and funny and quirky and kind, and we miss them.
The grilled salmon was ready to eat at about the same time that the mojitos were ready. Katie went down the back stairs all by herself, into the back yard. Heather & Arek & I went downstairs to meet Geoff and Katie, and then we all poured water, distributed silverware, and mojitos, and salmon and corn on the cob. Heather raised a toast to summer. Katie had to be reverse-psychologized into eating her meal ("I hope nobody eats this piece of salmon!"), but she did eat almost all of it, the salmon and corn both. For awhile, she lay on a sleeping bag in the middle of the yard, the dogs arranged around her. We talked and laughed and ate, and before we went in, the fireflies came out. Katie pointed them out to us, over and over. "Do you see that one?!" Just after dinner, Josh called back, and we chatted for a little while. We're planning to meet him and his family at the Indiana Dunes in a few weeks; I said I'd bring a cake to celebrate his July birthday and my August one.
We went in and got Katie ready for bed. She wanted to sit on Heather's lap and have Heather read her stories from her "Frog & Toad" book, so that's the way it happened. In the middle of Heather reading, Katie interrupted her to say, "I like your shoes." After the stories, and tooth brushing, we turned out the light and put her to bed. Heather and Arek stayed an hour or two longer, while we ate ice cream and chocolate chip cookies and drank wine or more mojitos or water.
The next day, Katie woke up early, came out of her room, and came down the hall to our room, where she asked me to pick her up and put her in our bed. She snuggled down between me and Geoff and went back to sleep. After an hour or two, she and I started waking up. "You are my best girl in the whole world and I love you," she said, as she has been saying a lot lately. Then she talked and talked about whatever came into her head. I heard Geoff laughing quietly on the other side of her.
When we got up, Katie and I made pancakes. Geoff got up and made us bacon, and we all ate together and hung around the house, relaxing, taking our time showering and getting dresssed. A couple of times Katie yelled out, "I have to PEE!" and I would say, "Ok, let's go!" and the two of us would race to the bathroom. She told me to sit down on the side of the tub. "Watch," she said, and then changed her mind. "I mean, listen!" And when she peed, we both got huge smiles on our faces. Then she picked out her sticker for the sticker chart.
Suddenly it was time to leave if we wanted to get to the movies in time to see Ratatouille. Geoff bought us tickets online, and we drove up there ("this is a long way," Katie said, about the 10 minute drive to Evanston), parked, and walked together to the elevator. When we got there, Katie and I went to find seats while Geoff went to buy snacks: popcorn and a drink for me and him to share, and a kid's thing (drink, popcorn, treat) for her. She sat between us during the movie, and she was pretty wriggly (head in my lap, feet in Geoff's, then standing on the floor, leaning against me, then in my lap, then back to her seat), but we all stayed in the theatre the whole time, and she was basically well behaved. Not only that, but all three of us were actually able to enjoy the same movie!
When it was over, we headed out to find a place to have lunch. We stopped at an Asian place where Geoff said he'd eaten once before. The menus were huge in selection and physical size, with pages full of color pictures of fruity drinks and yummy looking appetizers and entrees full of vegetables and noodles. Katie kept pointing to the page with the fruity drinks and asking, "Which one do you like, Mommy? Which one do you like, Daddy? This one? Do you like this one?" And when we answered, "Good job. Now which one do you like? This one?"
Katie was a little antsy, having been in the theatre for a couple of hours, and a little loud, and I said to Geoff what a good place it was for us - loud enough to drown out Katie's particular brand of noise, so we didn't have to worry that she was bothering anybody else - but not too loud to keep us from hearing each other. We got toys out of the diaper bag for Katie to play with; we heard her talking on behalf of her toys while she moved them around on the table or on her chair.
It was noisy and bright in the restaurant, and it was the middle of a lazy holiday day with my little family of three. The people all around us were all different ages and races and types of groups. The food, when it started arriving, was delicious, and we all shared each other's. Geoff and I kept laughing about Katie, who took turns talking to us and talking to her "kids" (her imaginary friends, who are all children from her daycare).
Then suddenly I had one of those moments when I felt like I was in a movie. You know the kind of scene: where the real life sounds of dishes clinking and people talking disappears underneath the music soundtrack, while the camera pans over all of our happy faces, smiling and eating and talking and laughing. And I thought, This is my little family. And if this is the biggest my family gets - if Katie is the only child Geoff and I have, it will not be settling. It will be good. It will be wonderful.
I think they call this kind of moment an epiphany.
Later I was sad again, and a little worried, and a little sorry for myself. But ever since then, I have my epiphany to hold onto. Even when I'm sad, I know that this is my truth. I close my eyes and I see the sunlight filtering through the wall of windows in Joy Yee's Noodles, and I hear the noisy conversation of all the people around me, and I see the way Geoff and Katie and I look at each other, and I feel it all over again.