It's been unseasonably warm here in the heartland the past couple of days. Usually when the calendar makes its way into September, you don't see the temperature hovering somewhere around 90. I guess it's one of those "in-between" times, too early for an Indian summer and too late for any new blooms to blossom.
Being stuck at home "recuperating" offers up plenty of time to think and to get to play the role of observer. While most of the world is off making a living in one way or another, here I am at home, taking advantage of something called short term disability and lamenting to myself just how bored I am of it all. The clock doesn't seem to want to move and my ambition to do anything other than think of my plight makes me feel selfish. There's a whole world going on all around me.
My neighbors are young, maybe 22 or 23. By today's standards, they're young to be married and on their own and even younger to be parents to a little kid who's about one and a half. I gotta give 'em credit though, she's trying to finish up school and he's out there busting his ass at whatever job he can get his hands on to provide for his family. They seem to live in a constant revolving kind of door, when one comes, the other goes. There's always a peck on the cheek at the door and some last minute instructions on how their baby is doing and then it's off to try and form a better life for all of them. When they first moved in, I expected the worst. Loud parties, people coming and going at odd hours, constant bickering and any other stereotypical behavior I could think off immediately planted itself in my mind. I'm happy to say, that once again, I've been proved wrong.
Anway, their schedules being what they are, they don't seem to have the luxury of spending too much time together. Yesterday was different though...
I guess it got to be around four in the afternoon when one of them got home. Normally, this is when the trade off would occur but this time all three of them went outside and filled up one of those kiddie pools. Outside of all of the tatoo's and body piercings, they looked like your typical American family enjoying a sunny afternoon in suburbia with their kid. Giggles and laughter and smiles all around.
Normally, I'd go outside and strike up some conversation about the weather or something else bland and non-threatening but this time I had the feeling that the time belonged to them. I would've felt like an unintentional intruder so instead I peeked through my window and the screened in porch and shadow of some sunflowers and slowly but surely, a smile was brought to my face.
They had traded in the kiddie pool for a sprinkler. They took turns running through it with the baby cradled in their arms and as they reached the end of what qualifies as our shared front lawn, the smiles on their faces were priceless. Then they put the baby down in the middle, probably just to see what she would do when she had the water all to herself.
After sitting there for maybe half a minute or so, she smiled one of those baby smiles. Most of you might know what I'm talking about. It wasn't directed at anyone in particular and you could just manage to see a couple of baby teeth breaking their way up through her gums. Then she raised one of her hands up in the baby style, with her palms upturned and her little fingers outstretched and twisted a little and she looked as if she was trying to catch the droplets as they fell down towards her. The look in her eye was magical.
I think it was the look of discovery.
Everybody seems to notice when the world has gone through drastic changes as a result of such things as natural disasters and wars. The newspapers and the television are there to serve as a constant watchdog and bring those thing into our living rooms. That's their job and it serves a purpose and for the most part, they do it well.
On a personal level, there's been a few too many drastic changes that have marked themselves on my calendar this year. The death of friends and my own health issues have obscured much of what I'd normally try and focus myself on
These days though, it's the more subtle changes that will most likely bring a smile to my face. I just hope I keep noticing them after I make my return to "normal".