You can put on the silky low-cut top and dark lipstick, you can sling your arm over a lovely man’s arm, you can dance until 5AM, you can walk through sparkling lights and barely touch the ground. But sometimes it isn’t enough. Sometimes “enough” happens, sometimes a night is just right, nearly perfect, and you haven’t even taken off your slipper sox.
I got home from a walk with the dog this afternoon to find my host-mom’s brother watching the Olympics on TV. Teasing him for having already moved from beer to wine, I joined him with a glass in watching the BBC summaries of British gold medalists. As the show wound up in its piano-based montage of athletes crossing lines and raising fists in the air, the children and their dad returned from having spent the night at his house. Dressed in pajamas, they were excited to see their tall uncle, a willing jungle gym. They turned the living room, that had moments ago held enough quiet to read, into a disco of shrieking.
After they had exhausted their uncle’s arms in games of “Roly Poly” and “Fling Him Higher Into The Air Then Me!” they decided to bury me in cushions. Reading the newspaper, their dad assured me that, “They’re just getting to know you.” They got to know me for a while, until someone wound up on my back. All three had to have rides from the staircase into the dining room and back again, flying fast enough to escape the “crack in the sky” the eldest had declared to stop our progress.
Knowing it was closing in on eight o’clock, I nudged one of them towards reading a story. We found the bag of library books and I settled them around me to read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” the ending of which, for the first time in my life, struck me as lame enough to prevent its ever being told a second time. But even after moving on to a story of a princess mouse, the eldest wanted me to read Goldilocks a second time.
Their mom returned during this time, much ado was made, and dinner begun. The sister in law, a children’s physical therapist, engaged them in several games involving the bags of sweeties she had brought for them. I read while my boss and her ex discussed September plans and put the kebabs into the oven. Asking if I could help, I was assigned the salad, and begun cutting up onions, avocados and cucumber. More wine.
After each coming, five minutes apart, to have their bags of sweeties emptied into lidded bowls to keep with them in bed, the children miraculously settled into sleep downstairs. Cigarettes were smoked as the first round of kebabs baked. Dinner involved stories of mutual friends and memories of adventures the brother and sister had had in university. More kebabs, plates wiped clean of hummus with pitas, tales of local friends, the children’s school, more wine, more cigarettes, until the children’s father went home. Peppermint tea while the sister in law and I laughed about how easy transitioning to English customs was after living in Spain.
And then I came downstairs to go to bed. The world can shower me with fireworks, but sometimes, all I want is good conversation around the dinner table and a comfortable bed to sleep in at night.