Nathan and I shared a quiet fifteen minutes together stuck on an elevator Thursday. Slightly movie theater montage cliche, I had just dropped Audrey off at the play area at the gym to do some of her favorite activities while Nathan and I went for a little jog. I was feeling proud of myself for getting there early enough to get in a longer run than my last. I pushed the stroller right past the bathroom thinking I'd wait and use the one upstairs. I pushed the button for the second floor and the doors shut behind us. Then, the power went off. This is where the story becomes rather anticlimactic and decidedly unHollywood. Nathan woke up at the jarring of the stopping elevator and sudden blackout. But, seeing me in the glow of the emergency light, he decided he was just fine. I am not claustrophobic and I was taught to hold it by a father who could have easily coached the Olympic bladder control team. I had a full diaper bag with food for Nate and myself. We were fine. We were just stuck.
This week has felt a bit like that elevator. In an effort to avoid being miserable, I have hidden myself in the house, away from flying pollen. This, of course, has made me (but, especially Audrey) slightly miserable. Ironically, forced reprieves in stilled elevators or pollen-free homes have a way of showing you what you need to see sometimes: the simple gifts before you - a sweet spirited baby happy to just be with you; the girl whose energy a house cannot contain; the husband, who seeing you not at your best, tries not to ask for much; all wanting nothing but your time. If one is to be stuck, good company (especially those who provide laughter) make all the difference:
On Tuesday, Audrey wanted to go play at the gym. While driving there she informed me that I took the fast way while her Daddy took the slow way. After leaving the gym, she asked for a snack. I told her I didn't have one (I try to keep our eating in the car to a minimum - I have a fear of her choking while I'm driving). I began driving home the same way we had come. Suddenly, snack-less, she complained that I was taking the slow way home.
Tuesday evening, she was talking to Jason about what she's been learning at swim lessons. The instructors teach the kids to position their arms to make a "chicken," "airplane," and "soldier," as a way to teach them the motion of elementary backstroke. Audrey was proudly showing Jason that she could make these motions.
"Do you swim like that?" he asked.
"No," she said. "I swim like this." Then she began making the sort of frantic arm circles one uses to inform a lifeguard they're in trouble right before he jumps in to make a rescue effort.
That night, Jason was telling me about a tool he was creating at work. He mentioned that once the tool was used, it would enable others to do more of their work without him implementing small steps, allowing him to be more "out of the loop," so to speak.
"Did you come home because you're out of the loop?" Audrey piped in from the dinner table.
Audrey spent much of this morning running around the backyard by herself. Warned early that I would not be able to go outside with her, she was eager for a playmate. At one point, I could see her holding the bars of the fence, facing two children playing on a community slide and singing, "Come and see me and I will be nice to you!"
This afternoon, Audrey sat coloring while I fed Nate. She asked if I would color with her. I assured her I would as soon as I had a free hand. A few moments passed.
"Do you have three hands yet?" she asked.
The cusp of summer holds a special energy. The days are long. The sun is high. Seeds hold promise and children cannot be bothered with shoes. Those same doors that held the chill of winter out cannot bar little ones from finding their way to the grasses, the dirt, the call of adventure. Light abounds: in big pulses of sunlight and small bursts of creativity, the lightbulbs that could be. You can feel the fullness like baking sun on your shoulders. The days, the projects, the adventures to come. The thought makes me smile. It also make me wish for a few more moments of still in an elevator. And that third hand.