A typical Monday has me getting off of work around 3:00, heading home to change clothes, then waiting on the front porch with my dog. Since the house I'm now living in is just around the corner from the kids' school, it is not a long wait.
It used to be that when Jude first saw me he'd come running with his arms open wide for a hug. Today, however, I got a cursory wave and a "Hi, Craig," as he bolted toward Jane. He loves that dog so much. Jen tells me he sometimes mentions her in his nightly prayers for the things he is thankful for. She is resting quietly on the floor beside me right now, and perhaps this is her doing the same. Who knows?
After taking Avery and Jude to help me run an errand, (We are rotating weeks where Jen has one kid, I have two,) we then went over to MLK park for a few minutes of play. When we got back to the house I had Avery and Jude take turns walking Jane. She is so good with them. With me she runs against the leash, coming close to pulling my arm off. With them, however, she was calm and relaxed, as if she were training them in the ways of the world.
By this point my old friend and new neighbor Brandon Durham had ridden up and was hanging out on our front porch. (Have I mentioned I have a front porch?) I suggested to the kids that we join him as we were waiting for their mom and Sutton to return. I told them we could sit on the front porch like old people and talk about our tomato crops, fig preserves, and pickled okra. Pulling the humor from my past, I didn't expect any reaction. But both Jude and Avery gave a hearty chuckle, as if they understood all the nuances of nostalgia and East Texas folklore. I suppose, though, it was just that the words "fig preserves" and "pickled okra" are funny on the ears, especially if they are not a part of your common lexicon.
Jen eventually drove up and she and Sutton got out of the vehicle to visit for a bit before she had to take them all to get ready for a soccer game. We shot the bull, our conversation running the gamut from tatoos to landscaping, to lying to the kids about the "Coke" bottle caps they found on the porch. (They were "Miller Lite" caps.)
After the Lake clan headed off, I sat with Brandon, talking about our days, my upcoming vacation, and what a great dog Jane is. In the midst of all this Britt dropped by. He was running his final errand of the day, taking his office deposit to the bank across the street, so he stopped by to say hello. I introduced him to Brandon, trying to make the requisite connections, which was easy because both grew up in East Texas.
Brandon went on his way to work related chores while Britt and I remained. Then Holly, Britt's fiance' and my down-the-street neighbor showed up and more talking about days ensued. We were all hungry and so they suggested we head out to China Spring from Zebbs Grill, or something like that. Since it was Monday and Monday's are always the day I begin and end my commitment to healthy eating, I thought why the hell not? So we went and we ate and enjoyed each other's company.
Later I was walking Jane and the words to a Keith Urban song got lodged in my head and I realized once again that these mundane days are about all we've got. But they've been given and that giving is a gift. And the best response is the opening of hands in acceptance, acknowledging the Gift Giver as merciful, graceful, and full of all-that-is-good-about-Mondays.
...what's your hurry, son, slow it down
taste wild honey, listen to the sound
of the wind that blowing through the trees
river is flowing to the sea
yeah they're all heading home just like you and me
life's for living, boy can't you see
that these are the days that we'll remember...
--Keith Urban, These Are the Days