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Friday, May 8, 2020

How I Almost Flashed the UPS Guy

Twelve years ago, when Kim and I were still in the planning phase of having a baby, I imagined our volleyball court sized front yard, then mostly hardened patches of red clay with a few sparse clumps of weeds, as a grassy area for our future child to play. After years of sodding, seeding, and now even hydro-seeding, we actually have a plush little patch of green that, even with my best efforts, still gets overrun with weeds.

Fast forward a little over a decade. We are in week seven of social distancing and solitary confinement, which may as well be house arrest, trying to slow the spread of the pandemic Coronavirus. For a month and a half we have been assisting the public school teachers with home schooling our ten-year-old daughter, now in the fourth grade, as she longs to be with her friends and we long for life to get back to normal. The tight confinement has caused us all to re-evaluate our appreciation of togetherness and become acutely aware of just how much togetherness causes us to go stir crazy and argue more than normal.

Two Saturdays ago, Kim and I dropped Senia Mae off at Grammy and Grampy's house for a little social distancing of our own. We all needed some time apart and some fresh perspectives. I needed a change of scenery and a break from my new normal which included two things: binge watching Netflix and rebuilding the rotten side deck with Trex decking. Before we pulled out of their driveway we had the top down on the convertible and Randy Travis swooned and crooned with his velvety voice bellowing out over the open road. As we cruised up 441, the wind blew through our hair, secretly cleansing our hearts and minds of this Corona craziness.

We didn't do a whole lot of talking during the drive, but being together in a more invigorating environment seemed to remind us of what we actually liked about each other. It was almost like hitting the refresh button on our relationship, an innate form of marriage counseling when nothing else was a viable option during the crisis.

Today, after what feels like many weeks later, Senia Mae is finally done with her online schooling. They are allowing the students to finish the year early if they have completed all of their assignments and Kim rewarded our daughter with a new set of Legos for receiving all A's. Senia Mae begged me to help her put together bags three and four of the Lego set, and although I had several things to do on my task list, I felt I hadn't spent much quality time with her lately besides nagging her to get schoolwork done. I plunked down at the dining room table toting my reading glasses and a hot cup of coffee, ready and rearing to go.

After an hour or so of me picking the microscopic pieces out of the pile and her doing the fun part of putting it together, she was deeply engaged in assembling a glow in the dark claw bridge. I quietly pushed my chair away from the table and snuck outside to look over the new patio set I ordered myself as a prize for finally finishing up the deck.
There it was: two curved chairs with pull out ottomans set apart by a cute little accent table. I made my way over to the edge of the deck and heard Senia Mae hollering after me. "Mama," she said in her mock you're in trouble voice, "We're not done building Legos!" I sighed in defeat.

"Senia Mae, that set is gi-normous," I pleaded. "It has over fourteen hundred pieces. We don't need to complete the whole thing in one sitting." I turned around and fluffed the throw pillows, placed them nicely on the two curved backs, then dusted the topsoil off the scarlet begonia before sitting it in near the back of the glass- topped accent table. I just wanted one minute to pull out the ottoman and test out the comfort of the chair. We had been stuck in the house all morning. I leaned back in the chair, stretching out my legs and adjusting the pillow so it supported the right spot, then closed my eyes as I basked in the morning sun.

We were fortunate to live in a private, wood-lined yard where we were somewhat hidden from the neighbors. The warm rays felt so good that I pulled off my top and laid there in just my pants and bra, letting the sun's radiance soak into my into my ghostly white midriff, turning my face to the sky and enjoying the wonderful gift I was receiving. Nowadays I felt a little too lumpy to sport a bikini with confidence, so my abdomen rarely saw the light of day. My assistant always said that toasted cheese is better than white cheese when referring to cellulite. Today I was toasting it up, letting my skin absorb as much vitamin D as possible.

Senia Mae then found her soccer ball hiding under the deck and began kicking it around the front yard which, over the years, has become the home to multiple obstacle courses, multi faceted dog training arenas, and lately a micro soccer field. A moment later I joined her in the grass, punting the ball back and forth as the sun warmed my bare skin. The feeling was so fabulous and freeing. Just then I realized that my dream from years ago had come to fruition.

Here we were, my daughter and I, playing ball in the grass just like I had envisioned before she was born. My heart soared with a primal sort of happiness, like all was right in the world. The dogs lounged lazily on the walkway as we laughed, playing around like a couple of kids, free and light in the open air. It felt like a scene from a movie, utterly perfect in that moment.

Then something changed. The dogs tore up the hill barking furiously. Senia Mae panicked and yelled, "Mama, it's the UPS guy! Get your shirt back on!" I pivoted around and grabbed my long sleeved shirt, throwing it on with such fury that the tag was in the front, the vee neck facing the back. We waited to hear the sound of tires crushing the gravel or squeaky brakes and shocks bouncing down the dirt road. Nothing.

Eventually the dogs came back down to the house and we realized it was a false alarm. It must have been a twig or a falling acorn that ruined what felt to me like a once in a lifetime precious moment. Before I knew it we were back in the house putting more Legos together. Part of me wanted to go back outside and re-create what we had just experienced before the bark invasion and the flashing UPS guy panic, but it was too late. I decided to just enjoy our time together however we spent it because it is impossible to recreate the past. It is also impossible to predict the future... but when it actually happens... wow. There are no appropriate words.