This post's genesis is a quiet midweek afternoon before a thunderstorm. I take Herr Meow out to the park for a little playtime before a late lunch and a nap.
We try to see if we know anybody –a somewhat uncommon event as we don't go often enough to the park at any time of day. There are some kids we recognize — there are the twins we have met before, and one or two children who always seem to be over at the park. Pretty much everyone we encounter ranges in age from six months to four years or so.
No one, except for a child who happens to be visiting a grandparent in town, is with a parent or a relative. Nary a one out of nearly thirty children.
The storm comes in, blows the nannies away, and only Herr Meow and the child who's come here with his grandmother are left. Tiny pinprick drops start to fall and the light canopy of trees shields us.
They play and are happy. The park stops being as dirty, dusty, dank and neglected as it was just a few minutes ago when the pressure was dropping and the heat was bearing down fruitlessly.
It's quiet and then it starts to rain a little more heavily and it's clear the tree canopy won't be holding up much longer. After our goodbyes, we start to walk home.
We walk past the lovely and mostly-gentrified houses that line the way home. I think of all the families they house. I think of the dog walkers we pass, their arms crisscrossed by leashes and their hands steady as they handle their charges' droppings. I think of the quiet cleaning women who smell like Pine-Sol and bleach and the mousy way in which they file in and out of a lovely house as they manage cables and buckets and hoses, keeping their eyes downcast but still managing to return a smile when one is offered. I think of the nannies who vanished at the first sign of rain and their cacophony of languages that keeps them to themselves.
I see all these vignettes unfolding in the span of a hour. I think I sometimes see too much.
Finally, less than a block from home, I see a mom I know a little. She smiles in the light rain while she and her son walk their dog. I wave at her and she waves back.
And then we make it home.