Friday, April 10 2020

driving, kite flying, and cake

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody! Happy Friday. It's nice to join you again in the work week after taking yesterday off to celebrate Marissa's birthday. It almost feels a little unfair that I'm celebrating Friday with the rest of you. All I did yesterday was go for a drive, fly a kite, and eat cake. But happy Friday, nonetheless. I hope you have a good variety of work and rest planned for this evening, Saturday, and Sunday. I'm looking forward to napping, cooking, and finally getting started on my home project cards that have remained untouched all week.

Yesterday was a great day. I woke up at regular time so I could get a jump on things. After brewing coffee and writing a journal entry, I swiftly printed my birthday card and prepared Marissa's breakfast. Marissa is an easy customer in the mornings. Her preferred breakfast is simply a Hy-Vee blueberry muffin, a dry bowl of frosted flakes, and coffee. I set up everything on our serving tray so it would be ready when she woke up.

Rodney began to stir at 9, as usual. I peeked my head into his room to get him up. "Dude, we gotta be quiet this morning. It's momma's birthday and we're letting her sleep in," I said. Rodney nodded dutifully, and together we made our way downstairs.

"OK dude, you gotta make mom a card," I said grabbing a blank sheet of paper from the printer tray. "I'll get you started." With Rodney's hand, I gripped a black sharpie, together writing HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM. "Dude, I don't know why I wrote it like a toddler," I remarked. I guess I was trying to stay in character.

While I tidied up the kitchen, Rodney added some crayon drawings to the inside. He drew two deliberate stick figures in the center of the page in faded grey and green. "That's Momma. And that's Rodney," he said pointing to the page.

"Good stuff, dude," I said rushing around him. "You gotta tell her that when she wakes up."

At 10, we greeted Marissa, who was already awake and poking at her phone in bed. "Good morning, Momma," I said. Rodney rushed in behind me. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMA," he exclaimed.

We set Marissa up on the couch with a blanket and her tray of food. "OK," I said. "The first part of your gift: peace and quiet. Me and bingiss here are just gonna get the hell out of here and go for a drive. We'll see you in an hour." Marissa beamed with approval, and Rodney and I jumped in the car. I turned on the radio, and Rodney bobbed is head in the back seat.

We went for a long, quiet drive. I sipped coffee while Rodney watched out the window. We drove past the capitol building, through the near west side, past the hospital, and headed back towards our house on the highway.

Madison looked so normal. Being stuck in our house during quarantine, I've developed an irrational fear that Madison will be filled with empty lots and broken windows, and suddenly take on the appearance of a Scooby-Doo ghost town. But Madison remained proud and put together, as if it were just patiently waiting to resume regular life at a moment's notice.

Rodney and I returned home. "Did you have fun?" I asked Marissa while tossing my keys onto the table.

"I did," said Marissa. "You know I thought I was going to get bored and get up to do something, but I literally just stayed here the whole time and watched Bob's Burgers. Actually I got up once to get another muffin."

"Oh, how lekker," I replied. Rodney presumptively took command of the TV, plopping down on the couch to watch X-men. Marissa and I sat at the dining room table, polishing off another pot of coffee. Our conversation happily wandered from the week, to the weekend, to projects, to politics, to family, to Miles. Rodney wandered in some time later, circling the table like a hungry, stray animal.

"Are you hungry dude?" I asked.

"Yeah," he replied. "Larbgglabalra Mac 'N Cheese please," he said quietly. I fixed Rodney a box of Mac 'N Cheese and joined him at the table with a leftover sandwich, Marissa getting ready for the day in the upstairs bathroom. Some time later, we gathered in the kitchen. The next adventure on our quarantine birthday adventure was kite flying. We climbed into the car. I hoisted Ziggy and Ollie into their crates, Marissa protecting the delicate paper kite and string in her arm. We drove to Olbrich gardens and parked in the empty parking lot. The wind was intense that day. The water in the lake angrily churned underneath the dark, swirling clouds.

"OK let's do this," I said climbing out of the car. I took up Ollie and Ziggy's leash. Together we wandered into the open field against the cold wind. The kite string unfurled, flying underneath my legs and around the dogs leashes. The dogs began to run in circles frantically. Marissa struggled to keep the kites ribbons under control, and as if it had a malevolent will of its own, the string found Rodney and wrapped around his legs as well. Marissa and I remained huddled together in the field, struggling to contain the tangled string and free it from the kite. A dark cloud slid in front of the faint sun, and suddenly it began to snow. Marissa laughed.

"We need to regroup!" I hollered, pointing back at the car. In a valiant struggle, we trudged through wind and snow back to the car. I gathered the balled up kite in my arms in the passenger seat. Marissa wrestled the dogs into the crates. The kite string was still wrapped around their feet, Rodney's waist, me and Marissa's shoes, the leashes, and now around the front bumper of the car. There was a poop bag tangled in the string as well. Marissa finally snapped the car door shut.

"Well that didn't go well," I cackled. Marissa squealed with laughter. "That was so funny I think I peed myself," she said. In the front of the car, I cut the kite string free with my car keys and retied it. "OK I'm going to try again. Just me though, stay here." Marissa and Rodney watched with amusement as I took off down the field, wind and snow whipping at my face. The kite limply dragged behind me on the ground.

Marissa tried next. She calmly and expertly flicked her wrist. The kite hesitantly bobbed and waved in the wind, hovering in the air above her. She cracked a quick and focused smile. "Dude, check it out, Momma got it!" Rodney ran out to meet her in the field and she handed him the string. "OK kite flying - check," I said to myself.

Marissa climbed back in the car with the kite pinched in her arm. "This isn't a very good kite," she said. "Dude, we'll get you a new one."

It wasn't a good kite. Marissa and I agreed that the string attached to the wrong spot on the butterfly. We would have perhaps had better luck just flying a ten dollar bill on the end of the string, and that would have saved us $5 as well.

"Well here, let's have fun with this one at least," I said. I cracked the sun roof of the car and Marissa let it fly out. "UH OH," she exclaimed. "I don't feel tension on the string." The kite snapped in half, its pieces lying against the car roof. Marissa fished it back into the car.

"OK, now it's definitely broken," said Marissa reeling with laughter.

Back at home, we napped, ordered food, and after some calls and zoom sessions from family, we cut into Marissa's birthday cake.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a great Friday.