Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unexpected Perfect Day

It turned out to be one of those really amazing days that sneaks up on you. 

I got up early, got Sam off to the school bus, saw Jeff off to work, then sat down at the computer to catch up on writing, facebook and email. I got a few things done then suddenly remembered I had signed up for CPR training at work that morning. They were meeting in less than a half an hour.

I quickly dressed then rushed off, down snow covered roads, then icy sidewalks, bursting into the warehouse classroom with just a few minutes to spare. Looking around, I realized I was by far the oldest one there. The room was full of life guards and ice rink employees, all kids who were my son's age. I sat down in the back row, filling one of the last empty chairs. I wondered which of those teens was going to roll their eyes when they were forced to pair up with the lone old lady. Then, suddenly, three more people came through the door. All older than me. My day turned on a dime.

Through the next three hours I once again practiced pressing on the chest of the large stiff mannequin who has fewer lower limbs than I do. And I made new friends. I got to know the director of our Rec Center Play School a bit better and found out one of the senior aerobics instructors is actually my neighbor. She's a lovely woman I hope to know better in the future. I glided over those ice covered sidewalks, back to my car, with a smile on my face.

It was a bright sunny day, the kind that makes Colorado the tourist's dream. 

I drove to Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries and some last minute gifts for my children, taking the time to appreciate the mountain views that border my every day roads. Every year I find myself putting off buying our family presents until all the long distance boxes are mailed and holiday cards stamped. It felt good, and mothering, to finally bring home treasures for my own babies.

As soon as the pile of bags were unpacked and hidden until wrapping could commence, I jumped back in the car and headed to the Middle School. Sam's sixth grade band was playing a small holiday concert in the lobby of their school. I stood, with Jeff by my side, as we soaked in the fun of holiday music played by energetic 12 year olds. I took only a bit of video, when my percussionist boy started having just a bit too much fun with the maracas in their rendition of Jingle Bells.

Michael, who had been down in Denver, making last preparations for his leave to boot camp next week, surprised us all, as he walked through the school doors. His meetings had wrapped up early. The smile on his little brother's face, as big brother offered to take him out for a milk shake, just the two of them, was enough to make my whole day.

Jeff and I headed off for home, having some nice, uninterrupted adult conversation. He settled in with a library book (a rare treat for him) as I cut up tomatoes and onions and spread the counter with a Mexican feast. 

A short time later, the boys came home, full from milkshakes but hungry for 'real food'. Isaac had shown up, home from skating on our local town lake, and we all gathered in front of the big family TV with our plates piled high with nachos, tacos and enchiladas.

For an hour and a half we laughed at scenes we've seen hundreds of times - we had our traditional viewing of the movie Christmas Vacation. Michael, now an adult himself, saw things he'd never seen before, with new grown up eyes. Sam saw silly things he'd forgotten about from last year. That movie, once again, brought our family new belly laughs and new memories.

And then, because the day had not been perfect enough, a few hours later we headed to our little mountain downtown. Sam's drum instructor was playing with a band at Little Bear Saloon, the biker bar that is our favorite family gathering place. On its tiny stage, the drummer's spot literally built with milk crates, with random bras draped by the dozens in the rafters over the band's heads, my boy got to see his instructor in his element. The same crazy guy he meets with every week, now under spot lights, lost in the rhythms of some classic rock songs.

The bouncer was nice, letting our 12 year old in for just a few songs, when the policy was no one under 21 after 8 pm. We all filed out after two songs but I wasn't ready to leave. Michael agreed to take Sam home, and come pick up the old people later, so that Jeff and I could steal an unexpected date night.

We popped back in the door, paid the cover fee this time, and found a table not far from the stage. For the next four hours we got to be us again, just a couple of crazy college kids who have big dreams they hope to live out together. It was easy to forget the house full of kids and responsibilities that waited for us once the clock passed midnight. The band was great, the Dr. Pepper was a perfect mix. My musician husband listened with different ears than his musically challenged wife, but we both enjoyed the music in our own way. 

It was gravy on the day, that Sam's drum instructor, who I now consider a new local friend, came over to our table at every break, and shared funny, interesting stories with us about his long history with all kinds of music and bands.

It all ended as the place cleared out and we, alone, watched the last song the band cranked out. It's a whole different experience to have a band personally interacting with you, playing a private concert in a public venue, at just after midnight on a Friday night.

We stepped out onto the old wooden porch to wait for Michael's taxi service. We could see down the short block that makes up our tiny historic town, to the bank clock that read 10 degrees. A red fox dashed across the parking lot across the street, disappearing over the snow bank that led him back to the woods. And then our warm minivan drove up.

The night was over. The day that started out in that oh so ordinary way was winding down. A half an hour later I was snuggled under a pile of warm blankets, drifting off to sleep. 

So incredibly thankful that sometimes the best days of your life creep up on you without warning.

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