My fingers pinched each other a little too tightly, twisting nervously under the table. The bathroom designer, the one delivering a quote we probably couldn’t afford, for a bathroom that desperately needs updating, seemed concerned I didn’t like her ideas.
The clenching and unclenching of my hands came from the internal volleying that happens in my brain whenever we’re faced with large — for us — financial decisions. Do we need the renovation? Is it the right use of our family’s money? Should we wait a little longer? How many dinners out a month are too many? Should I be back at work full-time instead of eking out money from my words?
The questions twist over each other like my fingers, complicated and entwined, without simple answers.
Hours later, my kids found a small bag I’d stashed on a chair — The Lorax movie, a sale purchase from a grandma who’d heard them wonder when they would see the updated film. Abbey’s eyes scanned the back of the DVD case, the power of reading still magical and exciting, the key to doors she never realized existed until she could begin to decipher the words dancing across daily objects. Her latest signature sound, a high pitched squeal of excitement punctuated by quick words, carried across the kitchen.
“Mommy! Is it my Taylor Swift that’s in The Lorax?”
My affirmation painted her day in bright colors. In the middle of our ride to soccer, her interruptions showed me how significant the simple revelation was in her eyes.
“I wonder if she’s in other movies? She really is a movie star if she’s in a Dr. Seuss movie, right Mommy?”
Silent for a few moments, lost in her reverie, we continued the drive to soccer. Sun shone on our hair as we entered the dome for the last indoor game of my little boy’s season before moving outside into the chilly spring weather. During one water break, his loud whisper flew between his lips like a gust of wind.
“I think we get a sucker after the game! I saw the bag by the net!”
Indeed, he came off the field with a Dum-Dum clutched in his hand, his tongue protruding for inspection. “Cotton Candy! Is my tongue blue yet?”
I tilted the rearview mirror for him in the car, just enough that he could continue to observe the progression of his tongue from “pinkish tongue color” — how’s that for a new Crayola color? — to the bright blue stain from the small lollipop. As I slowed the car to a stop at a red light, I flipped open my notebook to scribble “Taylor Swift and soccer lollipops,” a little note to myself to record their joy at two things so small and sweet.
A business card was tucked into the pages: the name of the kitchen designer reminded me of the complicated questions that threaten to race through my mind when I dwell on looming decisions.
I underlined the five-word note I’d jotted and pressed the notebook closed. In a moment, the light would be green, and we would be moving again, passing other drivers with complicated decisions racing through their brains. I turned up “Style,” an excited squeal mingling with a frustrated, anti-Taylor-Swift sigh behind me, and car danced to the joy found in the simple things.