Life is a strange journey. I've often told people that I really don't believe in fate, but do kind of think that there is a "preferred path" and that life throws you road signs sometimes. I often find myself whizzing down my own personal interstate yelling "Hey did anyone see what that sign said? That semi was blocking my view and..." Well, I don't know maybe I need to slow down, or get on a quieter path, or stop talking to imaginary backseat passengers. Because it is a pain in the ass to have to get off at the next intersection, turn all the way around and drive back to find out the sign said the next exit was your junction. Humph.
About two weeks ago I got an email from our DRE at church asking me to sub for the Kindergarten class at church. I was happy to oblige, the kindergarten class has one of my favorite offspring in it not to mention a bunch of other Happy Shiny People. What could be more fun than an hour and a half with a bunch of five year old kids?
Well, it wasn't quite the picnic I'd dreamt up, my own child was goofy and out of control, which was an interesting combination with being glued to my body. The three stooges, as I've come to think of them, are three little boys a bit younger than my Elyas who all entered the church at about the same time, who all attended the same preschool and whose mothers all hang out together. They used to be ever so sweet as a little gang. These days they are just ever so loud, and raucous. And did I mention loud? There are some very charming little girls in the class who seemed to have a bad case of being bulldozed by the one regular teacher's daughter. And they all cried at the drop of a hat. Except for one little girl who was dressed in a lovely christmasy red dress with velvet sleeves and a satin skirt and all kinds of sparkles. She took one look at Elyas perched on my lap and decided that perhaps that is where she needed to be as well. So they squirmed happily next to each other through the story and discussion, and if Elyas whispered a comment in one ear, she was sure to come up with another. And then, something kind of surprising happened. Like I said, I decided to make my teaching commitment as a substitute this year, making sure that there is coverage when other teachers want to have a life or something. So I don't know all the kids names. As it happened when this little princess decided she needed to do a dance recital for me rather than do the craft project I still didn't know her name. I was really surprised when the other teacher said, "That was really very nice, Aria, lets sit down at the table now." If I'd been drinking something I might have done a spit take. I've only heard the name Aria once (actually spelled differently) in my life and it belongs to another amazing person who happens to be a very close friend and neighbor of my friend Cyndi. I met her when I visited Arizona in February. I found it kind of amazing because despite the geographic, age, and yes even racial differences between the two, there are some specific personality similarities. The phrase "spitfire" comes to mind. I had a moment of thinking maybe this was a sign, but I passed it off as interesting coincidence. Aria's mom picked her up after class and I congratulated her on raising such an affectionate kid and awe inspiring dancer, and that, was that.
So that leads us to this weekend. I did my normal weekend without the kids stuff, shopping (note to self, when your kid wants one of the most popular toys on the market for Christmas, waiting until the last minute is really stupid...really...), cleaning, web surfing, church, crafting. etc. But it is really getting hard sometimes - the solitude of it all. I spent a lot of time thinking how much I'd like to have some more friends. I even looked at some dating sites again, which made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. But the truth of the matter is I've been on my own for about 20 months and my circle hasn't really grown. I've recently joined a single parents meetup, but nothing has really happened with that yet. And I'm feeling pretty isolated.
That's really where I've been for several days. I woke up feeling kind of blah, but decided to start my day with a flourish and try to shake off the sad feelings. My car had become a pit of crap the kids had drug into it, so I decided to clean it out before heading out to work early. I grabbed a trash bag and opened up the car from the passenger side and began shoveling crap out. It was cold...I don't know the exact temperature, so let's just call it STINKIN' cold. And when it is STINKIN' cold, you know it takes a few minutes for your car to warm up, so I decided to start the car while I finished this job up, I put my purse and stuff down in the driver seat and put the key in the ignition and started it up. I filled up the bag and turned to take it to the garbage can. As the door swung shut behind me I remembered that my car automatically locks the doors when the ignition is engaged. I was locked out - of my car - of my house. My cell phone was in the car. And remember, it was STINKIN' cold. I tried to figure out how to break in...to the car or the house for about ten minutes. Then I tried knocking on the landlord's door. I think, I'm not sure, that they might have moved into one of the other rentals across town. At any rate they weren't answering the door at 7:15 am. Nor were the neighbors on the south of the house. My neighbors in the duplex were home, but their phones (a cell only family) were not. I looked starkly up and down the block. I really know no one around here. How horrifying to have to walk up to a stranger's house and beg for help. And yet, what else was I going to do?
I remembered our first weekend here, the neighbor across the street had come up to express his concern about the boys playing too close to the street, he'd seemed nice, so I decided, well, I'd start there. I took a deep breath and rang the bell. At first I thought they were not home...quiet then a dog, not really barking but kind of grumbling. Footsteps and the door swung open, I started delivering the speech to a pair of bare feet and the bottom of a grey terry bathrobe.
"I'm so sorry to bother you so early, I'm your neighbor across the street and..." as my eyes traveled up I saw the beagle pacing behind her and I met her eyes. It was Aria's mother! I nearly fainted. We had a big "it's a small, small world" moment and then she slipped on a pair of uggs and grabbed a wire coat hanger. She stood out in the STINKIN' cold for about 20 minutes trying to work her magic on my car (she is no stranger to locking her keys in the car she assures me) and when she couldn't she invited me in to call a locksmith. We chatted for nearly 45 minutes while she puttered around in varying stages of getting ready for her own day. She invited me to dinner on Wednesday. "We do a potluck with friends every Wednesday. I tend to tell people when we aren't going to do it rather than when we are, it's just easier." I confided in her that Elyas is rather partial to tea parties which she was thrilled about. "Aria needs a tea party partner!" And as it happens, Aria is rather partial to trains, so that's kind of nice too.
Maybe I didn't miss the exit after all, but I needed a big flashing neon sign to get to it. Maybe.
Or maybe it just really is a small small world. Whatever. Kind of a good story, I thought.