the conversation meandering

We started the new year with a pile of satsumas, cups of hot coffee, a roaring fire, and a family dance party to the Portobello Road sequence in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Not bad.

(This wasn’t at midnight, of course. We were all asleep when the new year began. We are a family of a four-year-old and two boring adults. We missed the fireworks.)

There was macaroni and cheese for breakfast in bed, dress-up shows inspired by pulling off clothes from Mama and Daddy’s hangars, silly games of lipstick that left Mama looking like the Joker from Batman, and laughing at Daddy in Mama’s dress and cowboy hat. Giggles. There were plenty of giggles.

I walked. A long, solitary walk in cold air, accompanied by Ray LaMontagne’s Be Here Now on repeat. I was looking for the light in everything. I found some.

Friends stopped by with their small children. Lu was so happy to see her friends. She and the older boy ran up and down the stairs within moments, playing pirates and brandishing plastic swords. The little girl felt left out, for being younger. But she found Lu’s top hat and another sword. “I’m Captain Mom!” she shouted.

We sat at the dining room table, content, talking for a couple of hours while the children ran back and forth over the swath of sunlight coming through the dining room door. Danny cooked in the kitchen, happy to be using his hands. He brought black-eyed-pea cakes to the table, a riff on this recipe, along with smoked paprika aoili and roasted chickpeas with orange zest and sea salt. Our friends had brought two bunches of dark leafy kale, so we showed them how to make kale chips. We sat, happily munching. The kids wandered in and ate plates of food too.

One of the kids found the bag of pinto beans Lu had put into the refrigerator of her little pink kitchen. Another one found the bag of garbanzo beans from Eastern Washington. The third found a bag of muesli. They asked for some. I knew what I was doing when I poured a handful of each into small wooden pots for them. Within moments, there was delighted laughter and the clatter of beans drifting from fingers onto the floor. Our friends worried the kids were being a bother. Let them go, we said. We can always clean it up later. They were giddy at the fact they were allowed to make such a mess.

In the middle of this, another set of friends arrived. We shouted hellos, then their two girls ran from the foyer into the dining room to join the mess of beans and giggles. (The contents of all three bags were on the floor by now.) We let them play. We drifted into the kitchen to make grapefruit juice and fizzy waters. There was conversation about parenthood, medical mysteries, the relief at the holidays going away. The first set of friends left later, much later than they had intended. The day was slow.

Hungry again, we decided not to cook. My friend and I went uptown to get carne asada, nopales, and burritos from our favorite Mexican place for us, burgers and chicken strips from our great little burger joint for the kids. When we returned home, we walked into act three of the ballet the three girls had been performing for their fathers, the music squeaking quietly from the old Fisher Price record player.

We let the girls watch a movie. We sat at the dining room table and talked. And talked. And talked. We knew the next day would bring a bustle of getting ready in the morning, a return to school, the to-do list coming out from the drawer. We lingered in the slowness of the evening, the conversation meandering, not wanting to leave it.

Most days feel so busy that I don’t know where they go. They become a blur of tasks to accomplish and twenty more behind them. We slow down when we’re with Lucy — one of my favorite meditative moments is reading her book after book as she cuddles on my lap — but as soon as she’s asleep we go back to working. I’m not complaing. I love what we do.

And after the first day of the year, I don’t feel like I know a new way for the rest of the days now. That day was lovely but it will never happen again. I don’t believe in resolutions. I don’t think the turning of one night into dawn means a new me. I’m here. And right now, that’s enough.

But I do know this. I’m going to live every moment I can in 2013. And I’m grateful for my friends.

Bring it, 2013. Bring it.