July 23, 2009

Pass the ketchup

The boys and I had dinner tonight with a friend and her kids. This particular friend and I are approaching our 31st anniversary. In my world, this is what I would call an enduring relationship. We met in our first week of Kindergarten. Since then we've had life phases that saw us together constantly and some that didn't. But still, here we were, eating dinner with our kids.

It was one of those nights where you think to yourself, Whose kids are these and why are they calling me mom? I can't be old enough for them to belong to me.

That was perhaps exaggerated by the fact that after dinner we were headed to my friend's childhood home to a preview party her mom was hosting for her upcoming estate sale there.

Really. Am I old enough to go to a grownup party and are we taking these kids, who insist upon acting as if they know me, along? This is crazy.

After a quick dinner marked by asking small people (primarily the ones on Prednisone) to sit with their bottoms in their chairs, to please use inside voices and only two trips to the bathroom, we loaded up.

These kids really appear to presume they're coming with me.

We arrived at her mom's house, sprayed all the small people with bug spray and set them loose in the backyard -- in the same backyard that we were set loose in 25 years ago, back when this house was in the country and no one put bug spray on their kids.

Then I mingled. Another dear friend and I browsed. We actually both bought and paid with real money, not the make-believe stuff I used when pretending this house's pantry was an elevator.

Seriously. Who gave me a checkbook and why am I buying a bed for that cute little boy that keeps calling me mom?

After discussing the merits of a 36-cup coffee pot with -- not one, but two -- adult figures from my youth, and strolling through this house where I spent a fair amount of time during my childhood and adolesence, I was reminded that memories are about the people.

Good reminder. It's time to go.

I went to look for the kids and found all four of them running wild through the basement, having a seemingly darn good time.

They're crazy.

I rounded up those two rowdy little boys and brought them home with me. They were hot and sweaty and wanted to know when they could play with my friend's kids again.

Soon. Promise.

I arrived home and backed my sensible family SUV into the garage to unload the treasure I had found. I showered the two little people who were now making themselves at home in my house and put them to bed. Then I sat down and wondered, on the eve of my birthday, if I'm really that old.

Then I remembered something that had happened at dinner. My friend and I were deep in conversation -- so deep that we were forgetting to supervise the kids sitting with us. Somebody asked for ketchup. Someone else handed it to him. The two older ones began to giggle and we looked over to see that a little one had done this.

He wasn't scolded and instead we laughed and took pictures. It was kind of our fault - no one was watching these kids sitting with us.

Nope. Definitely not a grownup, and I wouldn't recommend holding your breath while you wait.

Now, a few hours later, it occurs to me that someday these kids might remember playing together, running through a yard with soccer balls, fighting over a board game, running around a basement. Them being good friends as adults probably defies the laws of probability.

I can still hope. Crazier things have happened.


Rosemary said...

Susan, happy birthday to you! What a really glorious way to begin the celebration of your special day. Love the ketchup picture. Perfect! I know he enjoyed that. It's so much easier to get ketchup on your chicken fingers or fries when there's a big, deep puddle of it. Way to go, T. Your beautiful description evoked nostalgia in this reader and no doubt others. It reminds all of us of special places, special people, & special times in our lives. Thank you! How lucky all of us are that you are in our lives.

Maria said...

Happy Birthday! You are not that old because if you are then I am too! :)

SStites said...

Happy Birthday! And really, compared to what Holly takes the first time around, that isn't much ketchup at all! I had a huge Costco size bottle one day--I could hardly lift it--which had perhaps 1/4 of the bottle used, so still 3/4 full. Holly looked at it and said, "Well, Grandma, you need to go to the store and get more ketchup SOON!" And with her, it is considered a veggie--basically, the only one she eats!

Cisley said...

Happy Birthday, our 31st one to celebrate together! Love the way you wrote this, with the thoughts running through it all along. Amen sister! If only we could get in that pantry elevator and travel back in time, we could have a REALLY good laugh.

Thank you for the lovely memories with more to come. You are the special-est of friends.

Stephanie said...

Well, it's probably time for me to admit I've always been envious of that 31 year relationship. I always knew you two were doing magic things that I wasn't invited to participate in. Seems you're still having fun together and that's just pretty cool.