I came home from work a little early yesterday; Ellis was at the door waiting for me. She giggled when I pulled up. I could see her smiling and talking even when I was still in my car, like she was part of a silent movie. I got out and she said, “Hi,” and “Come in,” — words that we have taught her. There is a certain grace that rests on a person when he can come home to a young daughter. She smiles so that it shakes her whole little body.
We drove out, all three of us, to pick up some furniture. Brooke wanted to make a play kitchen for Ellis, and she found an old entertainment center that someone was selling. It was only five minutes away. I unpacked the back of our car to make room for it. When we got there, however, we realized it would not fit into our small SUV, so I prepared our car rack: we thought maybe we could hoist the entire contraption onto the top, and drive home slowly. The man selling us the entertainment center ran over to his neighbor’s house to ask for help hoisting it up, especially since Brooke was holding Ellis. The neighbor came out, took one look, and said, “Don’t you think we should move that in my pickup?”
He drove the entertainment center over to our house in his pickup — the neighbor did — with no benefit for him. He asked how old Ellis was and said he was going to a play tonight for his senior in high school, a daughter.
After this, I drove over to a friend’s house to load our SUV with books. My brother inherited sixty boxes of books, but he lives a thousand miles away and my friend, Charlie, has been storing the books for my brother. I went over to get the books, knowing that my parents will take them away tonight to their basement, where my brother can go through them over Thanksgiving. Charlie and I loaded books and caught up on life: he said their son has a cold; he asked me about future children of our own. I haven’t seen Charlie in weeks and the conversation was easy and light; it was good to see an old friend and move books. Charlie helped move them all, which alone could have taken me an hour or so.
This all happened in a span of a couple hours. It was as if I moved with light on my back, my head, preceded by an unmerited grace.
And then: last night I poured myself a glass of wine and sat for almost an hour, reading and writing. Ellis was asleep and Brooke had bought me a few magazines this past week and I read and thought with no regard for time. I love those moments when time disappears and I know only enjoyment. I listened to music and had no responsibility at the edge of the day; I rested; I stopped.
This all happened.
And then this morning: I came downstairs and had coffee and cereal. Brooke wanted to paint so I watched Ellis with football on in the background. Again, time fell into the background, then disappeared. Ellis carried around three stuffed animals: a lion, a duck, and a Dr. Seuss character we call, “Alfredo,” and I pretended to attack her with her stuffed animals. She laughed and laughed, and I attacked her with kisses. She is all energy and laughter in the morning. Brooke painted and I played with Ellis.
Now, I am writing again, thrilled at this day. My parents will come tonight and I will watch football with my dad; Brooke will paint some more; I will have more time to read and write and think, to “think long thoughts and pray long prayers,” in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
This all happened, and it is happening. It is unmerited and beautiful and the sun is shining outside on the long, tawny grass around the reservoir, and I can hear Ellis laughing downstairs.