We had a weekend built around Caped Crusaders.
Although today is Grayson's official 6th birthday, we celebrated it on Saturday afternoon.
(Those are Tshirt capes. I made them! They all seemed to like them except Grayson. He didn't wear his for one minute. Stupid Mom with her stupidPinterest.)
These men were trying to pass themselves off as high school boys working hard to make money for college. Between their poorly covered up neck tattoos and their slick (well rehearsed) talking, I knew right away they were not as interested in selling Highlights as they were surveying our living situation and the contents of our garage.
One of the men knelt down to talk to Abby and Sparrow. Sparrow growled. I let her.
"Be careful, we just got her. She's unpredictable," my instincts warned..
Handsome solicitor continued to try winning over Sparrow as his eyes darted from her to Andy's mountain bike. Second stranger smiled brightly while keeping his shoulders pointed toward the street. Both men gave away their day jobs with every fiber of their body language. I respectfully declined their advances by letting them know we are a military family (guns in the house, go away now before I go get one) who does not take kindly to strangers (sick him, Sparrow).
They scampered down the driveway without much fuss and wished my superhero a Happy Birthday.
The day went on beautifully as seven of Grayson's buddies sweat themselves silly before pounding the tar out of a Batman pinata.
(Strategically located. Just kidding. We moved Batman.)
We ate hot pizza,
delicious superhero cake (compliments of my sis-in-law, isn't it awesome?),
and enjoyed a most excellent time with our friends.
Old friends and new friends.
(Sweaty haired me with Baby D and his supermodel mama.)
(This is the same baby D I helped fake doula into the world a few weeks ago. Weeks old and smiling already. Isn't he moon beams?)
The night came upon me quickly. My 20th high school reunion was happening in a couple of hours. I had successfully dodged the actual event but happily accepted an invitation to have a pre-reunion dinner with some friends I haven't seen since graduation day back in 1874.
One problem. I just threw a birthday party. Going out anywhere, much less trying to look nice meant a miracle needed to take place to transform my Frantic-mom-ragdoll-hair look to Of-course-I-always-wear-this-push-up-bra evening look.
I needed a shower, smelling salts, and some Spanx.
Alas, I only had mere 30 minutes to pull my sh*t together and get myself out of the door and into a Bethesda parking garage. In Andy's truck because mine (along with my GPS!) was in the shop. So there I was without a GPS, scribbled directions on a Post-It note in one hand and handling the very same truck I once reversed onto a fire hydrant in the other. A recipe for success if ever there was one. At least I had on something understated and safe.
Understated as a disco ball.
Believe it or not, I only needed to circle East-West Highway twice before finding a garage. For free, no less, score!
(FYI: Alvin the Chipmunk pumping a fist is never a cute look.)
Friend One sweetly helped me calm the freak down by handing over a menu while the rest of our party showed up.
First K, then R, then M! I could practically see the years flash before my eyes as we scrambled for each other and hugged tightly singing and humming how good it was to "...finally see you again."
I'm pretty sure I even cupped R and M's face in my hand like I was their great Aunt Matilde so proud of the beautiful ladies they have become.
But I am. So very proud of the beautiful ladies they have become. Each one is gorgeous, wip-smart, and hugely successful in their own right.
I was the only SAHM in the bunch and it made me both embarrassed and exotic. Some ladies who work full time outside of the home looked at me longingly while others gave me that sideways eyeball, waiting for me to order a barrel of wine instead of only one glass.
I ordered only one glass.
Conversation flowed easily and criss-crossed over a table of nachos, uneaten salads, and empty glasses.
As I was beginning to slip out of my shoes and really dig in to the night, L and S strolled through the door....SURPRISE! I didn't know they were coming! Joyous rapture, more childhood treasures dating as far back as Kindergarten. We knew each other before training bras and JAM shorts.
Yes, I cried softly to myself and took a thousand million mental pictures of each of their faces: M's soft waves around a palette of those gorgeous freckles I've missed so much over the years. L's pretty smile and warm giggles that made me want to hyperspace back in time to when we would play together in her backyard making mud pies while our mothers sang country tunes in her kitchen. There was S's silky black hair and her same kind, calm presence dating back to our monkey bar days . K's quick sense of humor unmatched by boyfriends, husbands or BFFs. R's sparkling eyes that show me she still loves me after all these years too. We were all inside jokes and choke-y tears.
It could not have been a better mini reunion.
I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude and love for these
When it was time for my dear friends to walk to their main event, I felt heavy in the chest. Why didn't I just buy the darn reunion ticket in time? Why not spend even more time with these people I never get to see? What about the other dear friends just around the corner? What about more wine?
But my truth keeps me grounded. I am no good in crowds. Anxieties win every time and turn conversation into a staccato exchange of useless small talk.
I got what I came for. Here, at this dark bar in Bethesda and its undercooked potato skins, I had the chance of a lifetime to hold several meaningful conversations with solidly awesome people of my past. And it was good. It was exactly what I had hoped for.
Unwilling to let go without a scene, I held my arms wide and tortured each one (and their patient spouses) with yet another girl hug. A goodbye hug. An I love you hug. A Please Know This Night Has Meant the World to Me hug.
Then I walked back to the Bethesda parking garage alone and filled with tears that wouldn't dare fall and ruin such a perfectly spectacular evening.
(Bookmark goes here, come back after you check FB.)
The next morning Andy and I walked our dogs and our kids (in that order) around our neighborhood. We saw three police officers parked in front of a neighbor's house.
Never a good sign.
One officer came over to us to let us know there had been a house break-in and the thieves got away with lots of things.
"Did you see or hear anything unusual last night?" the officer asked.
No we told him in new concern and fresh worry.
Then I remembered the handsome strangers from right before Grayson's party. Could it have been them? Is that why typically quiet Sparrow got snarly?
After hearing from a few neighbors, I think it is quite likely it was them. They were definitely running a scam and up to no good.
I'm so very thankful for Sparrow who growled at them the second she could.
And I'm so very thankful I had the foresight to let her.