When I left work, the sky was dark, but it wasn’t raining, though it had, on and off for most of the day, sometimes torrentially.
I made it to the Metro station dry, took the Silver line as far as East Falls Church station, then switched to the Orange line there, a tactic engineered under the assumption the Silver train might be less crowded than the Orange. It seemed to work. As I emerged from the tunnel at my Metro station, it had just started to sprinkle. I paused, opened my umbrella, not really thinking anything of it.
It’s about a half mile walk from our house to the train station. I cut corners when I can, “run the tangents” as it’s called in racing parlance. As I started across the parking lot, the wind picked up and the skies opened. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my cell phone was buzzing: text messages from my dad, hopelessly glued to the Weather Channel, and Elise, “Storm just hit here [surprised face emoji] should we come get you?!” Followed a few seconds by, “Do not walk home. Stay where you are.”
My umbrella did a back bend against the wind. As I reached the far side of the parking lot, rivers of mud and mulch poured into the street. There was no way around, and my shoes and socks were suddenly soaked. Lightning flashed overhead, the kind that lights up the entire world, putting everything into stark contrast, black and white, like an overexposed photo, followed immediately by the crack of thunder overhead. Okay, I thought to myself, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. But how was I supposed to know?? I’ve got too much to live for. I’m too young to die! Will my life insurance cover a lighting strike??
As I reached the end of our street, it started to hail. Aww, man (as Clem would say). Really? Hail? I had no choice at that point—or any other, really, since I stepped foot out of the train station—except to go forward and cross, again, the Rubicon of flowing mud, leaves, and twigs.
I went straight to the basement door. No since in coming in the front and getting the living room soaked, even though Elise and the kids were at the front window, looking for me to emerge from the storm. As I came in, I called out, “It’s me!” They didn’t hear me at first, and I overheard their worried conversation, plans to come save me from the weather, plans stacked together in tiny voices, crafted by completely selfless, worried, tiny minds.
I called out again, and they all came galloping down the stairs to the basement. They hugged my wet pant legs in relief. I stripped to my underwear in the laundry room, shedding my soaking wet trench coat, suit, backpack with running clothes.
A few minutes later, I was in sweatpants and a dry t-shirt. Elise described to me her afternoon. The kids who had been home since 1:30—early release day—had been alternatively at each other’s throats and quietly and peacefully reading, playing legos, or chess. As Elise started dinner, their wildly oscillating behavior took a sine wave for the worse, and they soon found themselves banished to their beds.
Elise made shrimp and grits with crispy kale chips (yum!), and I chased it with a New Belgium Tangerine IPA. We talked about politics and the incomprehensible rise of Trump. Pete who bathed before dinner, climbed back into bed and read dinosaur books. Clem was in the bath. I collapsed next to Elise on the couch, exhausted, trying to summon the strength to clear the table, wash the dishes, and makes the kids’ lunches. Sam played legos at our feet. Clem played quietly in the bath for fifteen to twenty minutes until she called out, “I’m dooooOOOOOOOOooooooone.” And Clem who before dinner was screaming that she was hot was, after bath, screaming that she was freezing, and so I put her in bed under four blankets and laid with her until she calmed down. Me, trying not to fall asleep, because a young couple was coming over at 9:30 to buy the crib we sold on Craigslist.
I turned the lights out. Sam crawled into bed, and Elise snuggled in next to Pete. At dinner, Elise will go around the table and ask everyone what the best part of their day was. Sometimes, the kids pick up the mantle and will ask us. But we had forgotten to do it at dinner, so Elise asked, "Pete, what was the best part of your day?"
Pete's response had something to do with purple hippos rubbing themselves inappropriately, or something like that. Exactly what he said, I'm happy to say, I can't recall.
Clementine: "Godly play."
Elise: "Meeting Miss Morgan and having acai."
The truth is, it's sometimes hard to pick just one part of the day that was best or better than the others, or sometimes, there just isn't any part of the day that is particularly good. Sometimes, the best part of the day hasn't happened yet, but you don't know that at the time the question is posed to you and it doesn't seem genuine or prudent to prognosticate too much. That being said, most days, dinner really is the best part of the day.