Thursday: A bit of an unfamiliar coolness in the air as we, clad in the nicest clothes we’ve worn in weeks, stroll hand in hand through a trendy neighborhood in the midst of it’s monthly neighborhood street fest. We pause to listen to a live band soundchecking on a porch, smile at babies in strollers, and laugh at large, fluffy white puppy dogs. We sit across from each other at a candle-lit table, eating fancy food subsidized with a Groupon, drinking pinot gris, and having the best talk we’ve had in weeks. We come home, change out of our fancy clothes into our pjs, and sit on the couch, sipping whiskey and continuing our great conversation, until, full on food and booze and life, we fall happily asleep.
Friday: Meet up with an old friend and a new one for a drink and end up on a lovely patio in the cool night air, Christmas lights strung in the trees. We regale the new friend with old college stories, and I realize that some friendships will always just pick right back up where they left off. Just a tiny reminder of why I’m glad to be home. The night ends with all of us yelling cuss words and chasing my dog Olive down the street after she escapes past the new friend at the front door. A real bonding experience.
Saturday: Forced to read Lolita for a class, I decide that perhaps the glorious weather and our front porch swing will make the novel less nausea-inducing. As I read, a gorgeous calico cat comes meow-ing up to me and hops right into my lap. As I pet her and she purrs and I turn pages in the novel I so desperately wish I could stop reading, we observe the neighbors. He: bearded and manly attempts to fix the flat tire of the family van. She: stands beside, nervously “helping,” cell phone in hand, seemingly ready to call in a professional. A small boy brandishing a large stick chases a chicken across two front yards while his tiny sister zooms across the yard, dressed as Batman, cape flying behind her. Eventually my new kitty friend decides she’d rather go play with Batman and heads across the street, while I take my icky pedophile novel inside.
Sunday: We gather in a backyard with a crowd of all our new favorite people from Eikon Church for a cookout. Grass fed beef burgers cook alongside vegan black bean patties. The smoke of some folks’ hand-rolled cigarettes hangs in the air. Children are everywhere, falling down the stairs, pretending to be the ice cream man, ramping off curbs on tricycles. We sit in the grass and talk for hours as the night grows cooler and dark.
Monday: We meet up with some Eikon Church friends, our vintage bikes in tow, at the Big Dam Bridge (thank you Little Rock for that lovely name) for the longest bike ride I’ve ever attempted along the River Trail. We weave from civilization to nature and back again, emerging from thick forests pierced by shafts of golden evening light to see the same beams radiating from the shining gilded top of the state capitol building. At one point we pause to watch a mother doe and her two fawns tiptoe through the trees. Later, a cotton-tailed rabbit scampers across our path. The boys speed away from me, and I pedal on, slow and steady like. They double back and catch up with me, before zooming off again. I don’t mind. I enjoy the quiet of the trail, so close to the city and yet so remote all at the same time. I smile at every person I pass.