As I edited pictures from this past weekend and viewed them in this order, I seriously considered leaving out the words. It seems that alone, the pictures tell much of the story — the kind faces, the laughter, the wrestling and scheming and playing and hugging, the kind eyes of my dear friend Nora and her lovely husband Michael… it is all obvious from the pictures that Milo and I had a really fantastic time.
I spotted Nora when we were still far inside the doors of the airport, walking out to greet her while she patiently awaited our arrival with Frankie (her 5-year-old daughter who is only four days younger than Oliver but every bit as full of personality); it’s hard to miss the light that surrounds her. It had been five years since I had laid eyes on any of them, and yet there we were, like no time at all had passed. The whole weekend was relaxing and easy that way, as it should be with friends. Or maybe it’s just that Michael and Nora made us feel so welcome we missed any stress that normally comes with traveling. They are down to earth, easy, considerate, and funny. And the kids! Joe, who is very close in age to Milo, immediately welcomed Milo into his inner circle despite having no memory of him. They were like two (or three) peas in a pod, those kids.
I wholly appreciated the sibling rivalry between Frankie and Joe — the two are hilariously matched and opposite as can be, much like Milo and Oliver. But somehow it all balances out. Where there could have been disaster, there was humor.
Michael made our trip particularly easy by taking the kids on several occasions so Nora and I could go out for an after-dinner drink one night, yoga one morning, and perusing the Tacoma Park farmer’s market the last morning we were in town. He played endless games of football and baseball and showed the patience of a saint while Milo talked his ear off about anything and everything. A true gem, that Michael.
And Nora, oh my eyes tear up when I think of all we’ve missed with each other as the distance has come between us, but a few days with her has done a service to my soul — I feel full and calm and happy for having been with her for that time. It is best not to dwell on the sadness of being apart from friends you care deeply about, friends who are there for you no matter what, through thick and thin and distance and illness or injury, through childbirth and stressful times and also happy ones — it is better to let the love fill up your heart and carry it on with you, back to wherever you have set down roots. Oh, Nora, I carry you with me, dear friend!
It was wonderful and sweet to see our kids together, if not all of them, at least three! Milo has been talking nonstop about the memories they created together and has Oliver ready to board the next plane to Washington.
Joe and Frankie have inspired a new love of baseball in Milo. We are in the market for a bat and ball; I assume we will pick up one of our own when we go to replace the 408 balls Milo hit over the fence in their back yard. A box of balls is coming your way, Joe!
Nora and Michael took us to a beautiful farmer’s market in Tacoma Park on the last morning of our trip, where we set up with cookies and other good things to eat to watch a great juggling act (see above smiling faces). Afterwards, we walked around, then settled down at a playground with iced coffee to enjoy the beautiful weather. Really, the whole weekend was beautiful, cool, sunny, and just delightful.
And to cap it all off, Milo and Joe finished the trip by working intensely hard on the above structure (out of this building set which we are considering getting Milo for his 8th birthday this year). There were many frustrating moments of failure before they succeeded… a good thing indeed.
I ate like a queen all weekend, and plan to share one of the salads (not the one above) Nora made for us — so simple and so good! I must end on a silly note before I get all sentimental and teary-eyed! Nora, Michael, Joe, and Frankie, thank you thank you thank you for being who you are, for welcoming us into your home and putting up with our high energy, ball-losing, poop-talking, barefoot-walking, playground-dominating selves. We love you and we had a blast. Come see us in St. Louis!