Hey folks – after a long, cold, wet winter, we’ve finally gotten a late spring here in the Pacific Northwet, (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) and the sun, has finally come out, and it made me think of something that happened about 15 years ago.
It reminded me of what it was like to be both little boy, and a dad, and I just had to write it down, and the following story was born. Of all of the stories I’ve written, I think this is my favorite. I’ve changed the name of the little girl (who by now is a young woman), but otherwise, the story is as it was written back in 1998.
Springtime has hit my son (who’s 7) like a ton of the proverbial bricks.
The object of his affections is a very nice little girl in his class named Sarah.
Recently we got a student directory for his school, and he’d started reading it, looking for where kids in his class lived. He was spellbound every time he had his mom read it to him, as if it were the best children’s book you could ever hope to hear.
It took us a little while to figure out what he was up to, but we did notice there was method to his madness when we read off Sarah’s address.
“That’s only two blocks from here!”
So he would sit there curled up on the couch and look at the directory, a big, dopey grin on his face, and thoughts of Sarah dancing through his head.
Last Saturday, he felt this irrepressible urge to “go for a walk”
I agreed, but things got in the way, the afternoon started to slip by as they so often do, and he got more and more insistent on taking this walk. Finally I asked him if there was any place in particular he wanted to go, and he gave me that look that all parents know. You know, your child wanting to tell you something so much that they’re ready to pop, but not really wanting to let go of the secret they’re holding onto so tightly. It’s a lot like a balloon, which can only handle so much pressure until it bursts. In this case it did burst and the secret of where he wanted to go came blurting out:
“Sarah’s! Can we go right now?”
“Um, sure, but what if she’s not home?”
“Should I call her mom to see if she’s there?”
“Yeah, yeah, do that. Call her mom.”
I had no idea what I would ask her mom, but figured if I did ask something I might want to ask it without little ears hanging on my every word.
“Do you want to be here when I talk to her?”
“Uh, (gulp) — I see what you mean…”
— and so he went off as if to go to his room, but hid just around the corner and waited, – and if you can imagine a 7 year old turning into a giant ear, that’s what happened … He was listening with every pore of his being.
I dialed and heard a male voice, “Hello?”
“Hello, is this the Johnson residence?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Are you Sarah’s dad?”
“Okay, Hi, I’m Tom Roush, I’m Michael’s dad, and Sarah is in my son’s class, and it seems that spring has hit him pretty hard…”
“…and he found out where Sarah lived, and it’s just two blocks away, and he’s been pestering me to go for a walk all afternoon, with the idea of…”
“…walking past Sarah’s house?”
“Well, she’s not here right now, but should be back in about half an hour…”
There was a pause as we both were taken back a bit to our childhoods and we remembered the butterflies caused by little girls when we were that young…
“Does Michael like dogs?”
“He does, why?”
“Well we’ve got this (whatever breed) who really likes people, I could go outside and play with the dog for awhile and just kind of be out there when you come by on your walk…”
“That sounds great, we’ll see you in a little bit…”
Normally it takes Michael a good long while to find his shoes and socks, no matter where he’s put them.
This time was different.
Normally when we go out for walks, I walk, and he runs up and shows me stuff, then comes back, then runs up again, and back, and so on.
This time was different.
He held my hand and stayed pretty close, and we looked at house numbers, the tension building as they got closer and closer to 1006, her house number.
We saw the dog first, and we saw her dad, Phillip. And as we started chatting, some friends brought over some hamsters for them to hamster-sit, Michael played with the dog and watched some ants that were mining for dirt under the sidewalk. We meandered into the back yard, just chatting away with Michael being ever so patient, just being a very good little boy, wanting to play on the playset they had back there, but being too polite to interrupt and ask.
…the Heavens opened…
…And Gabriel Himself announced the arrival of…
…Sarah, who popped out the back door.
And popped right back into the house.
The door to the Heavens got stuck half open …
Trumpeters picked up sheet music …
Angels straightened out their robes …
And Gabriel Himself stood there, checking his list to see if he was at the right house.
Michael looked up at me, and all I could do was shrug my shoulders.
Next thing we knew, she’d popped back out again.
Angels in overalls got the door to the Heavens unstuck.
The trumpets picked up where they’d left off.
The Angels counted time waiting for their part.
And Gabriel found that He was indeed, at the right house.
“Sarah, you know Michael, right? – would you like to show him some of the animals in the house?”
Turns out that a menagerie would be an understatement.
So Michael and Sarah went up to the living room where she showed him her hamsters, and her gerbils, and there’s a bird in there somewhere, while Phil and I went downstairs to the basement to talk about “guy stuff”, you know, the “I’m thinking of knocking this wall out here and putting in a bathroom here, and…” – stuff that little boys who came to visit little girls aren’t interested in in the least.
…and soon it was time to go.
Michael thanked them for letting us come over and calmly walked down the stairs, as did I.
It was only after we got out of sight of the house that he started floating.
— actually, floating is too gentle a word for it.
It was a full bore run with an exclamation point of a jump at the end, “YES!” – both arms up in the air, both feet completely off the ground, and head definitely in the clouds.