Durable Goods

Ok, ya’ll, listen up. 

Kindness is a dish best served fresh. And I have something to tell you.

There have been tree services all over our neighborhood, reportedly working for the city or the power company, trimming branches and cutting down trees. This equals a lot of wood laying in yards and along the bike path, which equals people picking that wood up.

We’ve had one family, in what we learned tonight is a ’91 pickup truck. This whole what year is your truck thing started with Casey saying, Nice Truck! And saying how we used to have one that was about the same age, that straight six that is bomb proof and will run forever even as your wheel-wells rust and the chassis crumbles beneath you.

And it started with girls who are tired from a week of navigating a new not-play ground and meap tests (ahem, MStep tests) and mommy having soup kitchen and choir and vestry and so being home a sum total of more nights than not, but with an extra heaping of guilt.

I said to Casey, as he surfed the too many channels (but if you cut back the plan you lose the ONE that we watch), I said, we should watch a movie, Night at the Museum is out. And then he offered it to Avery, like a dollar bill when she wants to walk to Rite Aid. And she snatched it up, greedily.

And then the duvets come out and are laid down on the dog furred rug and all the pillows and the stuffed animals. And then Avery had to take her clothes off but consented to wearing underwear in the sort of/we try-hard company of her family.

So the movie starts, and I’m warming up last night’s pizza feast and Casey finally sits down…. and there’s a knock on the door. The garage door. Like someone as entered our garage and walked past the bikes and the unlocked car and the cash in the wallet on the front seat of said car, and knocked on the door.

Its a wrinkly old woman, and she wants to talk to “your daddy”.  She says, “I have honey and eggs for your daddy”.

This is a strange way to start one of Robin Williams’ last movies.

Casey exits. And I have to go check this out.

And there she is, in her panama hat, handing me a dozen brown eggs and a glass jar of “wildflower” honey. There she is, telling me, no no no, you can’t pay me, this is for you. And showing Casey pictures of her farm on her phone.

As her men and her husband pick up wood.

You see, there was one thing I missed. And it was Casey again. He told the man with the old truck and all the boys with him, there’s more wood down there. And the man said, I know, but I need to go back and get a saw, its too heavy. And Casey said, do it man, I’ll keep watch and make sure no one else takes it. 

And they came back then.

And then a neighbor of the variety who does not wave, but drives by in his $60,000 vehicle and sort of sneers, he drives down the road and everyone sort of freezes. He says, what are you doing here? 

And then he says, I have trees you can cut down, I have wood you can take, I will pay you. 

Thus, the knock and the honey, and the eggs. A thank you for work. A thank you for wood. For work.

And then there is the way our hearts lifted as Robin Williams rode into a room on a horse and did some more of his Teddy Roosevelt voice. And how he told us to go and take care of what needs doing, because he’s fine.

And now everyone is in bed and we are close ourselves, us supposed adults, who are brought to our knees when an old woman brings us honey and eggs because we have accidentally given her men work.

Finally, Avery learned tonight that the Ramen noodles she had asked for are RAMEN noodles, not Robin noodles. Which she said many hours before we decided to watch a movie which featured an actor that she does not know is dead, and whom she does not know is named, well, Robin.

And so we pass the time. Watching movies and reliving old memories and people who are gone from us. Listening to music and remembering how things used to be. Wishing to be better and not knowing that, somehow, we already are better.

Doing random things that are kind. And being paid in durable goods; eggs, honey, and a few choice logs piled next to the deck after we went back inside to watch Teddy Roosevelt and his memorable and wise words one more time.

I don’t think things like this happen randomly. I don’t believe that there isn’t something greater at play. I believe that being kind, and believing in all things magical, be they glass slippers or doors to worlds in the backs of wardrobes, or girls who fly away with the Green Wind on a leopard; they open us to do magic in the lives of others, and to see it when it happens in our own.

I see it.

And I see a small black cat with a “bionic” leg as she trots down a garden wall in York and the bell on her collar jingles. And I see a Lenten Rose blooming when we really didn’t think it would. And a wrinkly face, and a glass jar of honey, and a pick-up truck so loaded down its bed is riding on the rear tires.

Because we make magic happen when we love each other.

And when we believe.


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