Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. And most of what occurred had not been planned.
It was a gorgeous Florida winter day– one of those days that feel like heaven. Not a drop of humidity, or searing sun rays, or biting cold. The gently warm sun mixed with cobalt blue skies and fresh cool breezes kept the skin wanting more and the eyes closing in pleasure. A long bike ride was the only thing I’d planned because I knew the weather was going to be heavenly and I had no work or appointments scheduled. Just me and my bike and the trail. But right before I left I had a strong instinct to message a former coworker to meet along my trail ride for a coffee at my favorite local coffee shop. He immediately responded that he was excited to meet up with me. This coworker was an integral part of my sanity during our Covid-related lay off and unemployment benefit fiasco.
I pumped the bicycle peddles hard so I could make my route before meeting my friend. There were other bikers on the path, sometimes in my way (I wanted to soar instead of putz). Even the bugs had no time to fly away from my racing speed (there were some caught in my hair, some on my sunscreen-covered lips). I breathed deep and let my frustration flow away with the breezes. As soon as I entered my favorite park, with its many windy trails underneath the hammocks of oaks and cypress, I felt the emanating presence of god. I have never been a religious person. But I let god, as I’ve come to know this feeling of love and light and peace and gratitude, wash over me and flow outward.
I couldn’t stop looking at the tops of the trees, or inhaling the scent of orange-blossom. I even turned my headphone volume lower to hear the birds singing and chirping in the late morning.
My meet-up went well. It was so nice to see my friend after so many weeks. We sat under a pagoda, sipping our coffee concoctions and swapping stories of our latest accomplishments, work drama (his, not mine), and relished that we were both free from our old job that although had its many teachable and fun moments, a sheer relief to be unbridled by the stress and consumption of it all.
On the ride back I went through the park again, and stopped at the butterfly garden. There were yellow and orange butterflies flitting about, big bumblebees visiting each blossom that hadn’t been there just two weeks ago.
When I arrived back to my neighborhood I stopped at a neighbor’s house, as my son was doing some light yard work there as a side job. We talked about school and friends and the future week’s plans as he gathered pine needles and dusty mulch and I draped my arms over the chest-high fence. We made a date to run errands later and get dinner out.
Teenagers can be a moody, emotional mess at times. And you might not know which you’re gonna get. Today he was in a wonderfully light and playful mood, devoid of the usual school stress and pulsating exhaustion. He drove us to Home Depot, where I’d planned on purchasing a screen for our back slider, so I can let the breezes in without the critters and insects. He rolled the large platform cart along the aisles and I playfully asked if I could ride it as he pushed. I felt playful, too. We finally found the particular screen door (it was the last one left) and he questioned why we needed a cart so large for this light door and that he could just carry it, no problem. I was grateful he was there with me as these types of errands always seem to stress me.
We had dinner out together in between our errands. The conversation never lulled, there was no iPhone in sight, and he opened up to me without prodding or hesitation. We sat there fully present, chatting and laughing and eating like so many parents of teenagers don’t always get to do. Fully present. That’s what I’ll tell him to do next time there is a lull in conversation with his girlfriend. Sometimes you don’t have much to say. And that’s ok. Just being present is what is needed. In that moment, at that table, there were no distractions. I felt heard and appreciated and not an embarrassment as us moms can sometimes be to our teenagers. Just living and breathing we are dorks.
Our last errand before home was yet another home-improvement store, this time to buy an anti-squirrel bird feeder and seed, so I can invite more birdsong onto my lanai and into my life. Once again it was playful and helpful and not at all the chore I thought it would be.
When we arrived home he brought in the screen and promised to help me install it tomorrow. I don’t know how I’ll cope when he one day flies the nest. It’s too daunting to imagine. How pointless. We have today, whether planned or spontaneous.