Monday, February 13, 2012

An ordinary Sunday

Just an ordinary Sunday.

After breakfast, I ran three miles. Not a particularly impressive distance, but it was 14 degrees out as I headed out the door. Three miles was all I could brace myself to do, and it was enough. Day 1646 of my running streak.

At church, I was prepared to teach Sunday school, but none of my students showed up, which is not unusual during ski season. So instead, I was able to attend the sermon given by our impressive student minister.

After church I stopped by my parents’ house. Mom gave me a batch of brownies to take home, and I showed her how to transfer an audiobook onto her iPod so she could listen to it in the car.

Back home, the kids had just finished unloading the dishwasher. True, I had left a note before I went to church specifically asking them to do that, so I wasn’t surprised, but it was still nice to return home to a partially cleaned-up kitchen.

My friends Jane and Donna came over to join me for a walk in the woods. We bundled up against the cold – typical for February, but not typical for this particular winter – and headed out planning to walk for an hour, but we were having such a good time being out in the woods and talking about a variety of issues that we stayed out for an hour and twenty minutes. Then we came home and ate the chocolate cookies that Tim had asked me to make earlier in the weekend.

Later in the afternoon I read the paper for a while and mixed up a batch of vegetarian chili for weekday lunches before heating up dinner: leftover pizza contributed by my parents, who had stopped by a new pizza parlor late last week. Over dinner, the four of us joked about Valentine’s Day ideas and made plans for Rick’s upcoming birthday. Tim and Holly played a video game together before bath time.

It wasn’t a holiday or a travel day or a day when we did anything very unusual. It was an ordinary day. And yet absolutely wonderful in its ordinariness. The life I live now is the life I dreamed of living when I was in my twenties and thirties: happy, well-adjusted kids and husband, comfortable inviting house, good friends, welcoming community, parents nearby. Getting paid for writing articles and essays. Being able to head out the back door for a walk in the woods any time I want to is the icing on the cake.

These are the kinds of weekend days the kids will remember, I think to myself as the day ends. Yes, they’ll remember vacations and special occasions, but also the days when we mostly just hang around enjoying each other’s company. Pizza for dinner; a video game or two; nothing spectacular. An ordinary day. I look back at my own childhood and remember similar days: listening to records, playing with the dog, maybe a board game or a ping-pong match with my sisters. Regular daily life.

But such a happy reality, then and now. Sure, special events make for great memories, and those are the ones that end up in the photo album: family trips, birthday parties, class plays, enormous snowmen, sand castles, baseball championships. We didn’t take any pictures yesterday; it didn’t occur to us that any of it was worth photographing, and we were probably right.

Perfectly ordinary days are difficult to capture in images: what would the composition of the photo actually consist of? Fortunately, the requirements for good memories aren’t quite so stringent.

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