At 7 am, the kids that live across the street came bounding into my house, ready for school, with close to an hour to kill before bus time. Heading back toward’s Edie’s room to play piano, Li paused to take in the pile of blue dresses thrown on top of the wing chair. When informed they were all possible costumes for Edie’s role in the school drama club’s version of “Beauty & The Beast”, Li’s eyes grew wide and she asked with awe, “Is she the princess?”. As I answered in the affirmative, she went running into Edie’s room, with congratulations and adulation that only the little girl who lives across the street who understands the importance of having your royalness acknowledged can give you.
The sounds of the piano drifted out from Edie’s room, blending with the sounds of Li’s brother Will playing the bass in the den across the hall. At 7:25, a whistle was heard coming down the street – Anna’s way of announcing herself in the mornings that she comes to walk to school with Edie. As the two big girls were waved off to school, Will & Li retired back to our den, picking up Pat’s guitar and the often forgotten dulcimer to continue their early morning jam session. As bus time neared, they gathered their belongings and took Edie’s new soccer ball out for an impromptu game in the street before finally boarding the big yellow angel.
Just after 6:10 pm that evening, Anna & her mother Kate came down the street, joining Pat & myself on the walk to school to take in the evening’s performance of “Beauty & The Beast”, with Edie having stayed at school all afternoon in last minute rehearsals. Along the way, we ran into five year old Leo & his mother Tina, nine year old Charlotte and her mother Rebecca, all headed to see Edie in her dramatic stage debut. Betty & Ben came in just before showtime, sitting down in front with us, as Edie & I had done with Betty for all of Ben’s performances when he was a student at Walker.
As Beauty #5, Edie had two scenes and while I’m admittingly biased, she had fantastic stage presence. Out of the corner of my eye after the show, I noticed Ben going just a little bit out of his way to make sure he told Edie she’d done a good job as she ran by with her gang of fifth grade girls. High praise coming from the big boy who’s own stint indrama club a few years back is what planted the seed for Edie’s performance that evening.
These were the bookends of our day last Thursday, also our fifteenth wedding anniversary. In between, Pat & I managed to carve some time out to toast our milestone, but the truth is, fifteen years into this, it’s more about the life we’ve built than us. This life of growing old together includes watching all these kids grow up together, which is sort of a glorious thing. Circumstances have landed them growing up on the same street, in the same neighborhood together and they can’t imagine life without each other. They are their own little network, their own pseudo-family that celebrates all the little, everyday moments that add up to making a life.
What a beautiful life it is.