We sat in the sun, basking in the light while taking a short break from the pool. At six years old, the girl I was babysitting was relatively easy to please, and I always appreciated the opportunity to go for a swim a couple times a month.
Bringing a bite of soft pretzel midway to her mouth, a contented girl if I had ever seen one, she suddenly froze, eyes locked on me. She slowly brought her hand back away from her face. Her voice remained casual as she eyed me and said, “We used to have a towel like that.”
“Oh did you?” I replied, briefly looking down at the pink, yellow and blue stripes wrapped around me, then continuing to munch on my peanut butter sandwich, “that’s nice.”
“I went to look for it today to bring it, but I couldn’t find it in the closet.”
I paused, and then slowly turned my head as it dawned on me what she was getting at. Her eyes were filled with suspicion.
“Norah, I didn’t steal your towel.”
She looked unconvinced.
“Norah, I brought this from home. It is definitely mine.”
She still wasn’t completely swayed. “Well, maybe you brought it home and then forgot you borrowed it.”
“Norah, this is my towel.”
We stared at each other for a moment, and then she leaned back in her lounge chair, went back to watching the pool, and took another bite of her pretzel.
Summer has always been one of my favorite seasons, although this summer has been different than most. Questions try to weave their way into road trips, naggings and uncertainty find themselves walking along with us as we take our nightly stroll around the block. Six-year-olds wonder if I stole their towel while we are swimming together, and I can only say so many times that truly darling, I did not.
“It’s okay to not know,” people remind us softly, encourage us gently.
“It’s okay to be in your twenties and feel as though nothing is figured out.”
And lastly, “It’s okay to change your mind.”
Three summers ago we took a road trip to a friend’s graduation party, and we came back engaged. We spent the whole fourteen hour return drive talking, asking each other what we thought marriage would be like, and dreaming. So began the dreaming tradition, asking each other often where we want to end up, ushering hope and vision into the smallest places.
But often, I accidentally turn dreaming into planning, and so this week on our night off, I said that I didn’t want to dream. I wanted to be thankful instead, to not look towards the future, but thank God for the past and present.
Nachos and Thanksgiving, we deemed it, and my husband wanted to make it a monthly tradition, although I’m pretty sure he also saw it as an opportunity to instill nachos for dinner on a regular basis.
And the next morning, a Monday, an after-nacho hangover. As we headed out the door to begin our week, we hugged, and I was reminded of the future once more, albeit with a different perspective.
With nothing needed or decided: “I’ll go anywhere with you,” I whispered to him as I gave an extra squeeze, and he smiled.
“I’ll stay right here if you want,” he told me, and I could see that he meant it, too.
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