I thought it was beautiful and a little bit heartbreaking. I mean, of course songs about unrequited love are a little bit heartbreaking, unless the person singing is stalking the love-interest, in which case that's just creepy/retraining order time. But the thing that was heartbreaking to me was it made me realize that I am now past an age when this kind of love song is relatable to me in any way. Then I thought, "I like this song now, but 15 or 20 years ago, I would have loved it," and I realized why people have mid-life crises.
An odd thought, I know. In my defense, I was slightly insane from having tackled Disney and then spent an additional three days with the children. I was also probably thinking about a weird thing that happened over the weekend.
The K had to work all weekend, which meant more together time for the children and me and by Sunday we were all officially done with each other. Luckily, on Sunday the Girl had soccer practice for a couple hours which gave us something to do other than laundry and grocery shopping. The field where the Girl practices is far enough away from our house that I didn't feel like piling everyone in the car, dropping off the Girl, driving home to hang out for an hour, and then coaxing everyone back into the car for the ride back to the soccer field. So, I decided that while the Girl was at practice, I would take the Boy and the Baby and the Boy's friend Sam, who was with us for the afternoon over to "Stars & Strikes" to bowl and play some video games.
When we got to Stars & Strikes, I decided that we should bowl first because I wanted to limit the video game portion of the outing to as little time as possible. I knew that once we hit the arcade, they'd want to do three different things and I would be wandering all over the place trying to make sure no one had been kidnapped. Our group had been bowling for about three frames when a dad and his two kids got placed in the lane next to ours. The older of the two kids was a skinny boy of about nine named Jack. The younger child was a little girl named Allie. She looked to be about six or seven. I knew their names because their father would say, "nice shot Allie" or "good one Jack" after they bowled. The dad was tall, kind of hefty, and wore a baseball cap. After they bowled a few frames, the dad asked me why I wasn't bowling, too. "Oh, they get to play longer if I don't bowl. Plus, I'm not very good, " I said.
"You didn't teach them everything they know?" he asked, looking at the Boy who practically threw the ball down the lane and promptly fell on the floor because of the force of the release.
"Oh, that move. Yes, I did teach him that move," I said.
We finished up with the bowling and I took the Boy, Sam, and the Baby over to the arcade. Sam was on a ticket collecting mission because he wanted one of the worthless plastic trinkets that you can choose if you earn enough tickets. We were playing basketball when the dad and Jack and Allie showed up again.
"Do you live in Smoke Tree subdivision?" the Dad asked. I had no idea what the Smoke Tree subdivision was, but concluded that it must be nearby and also a place of which Smokey the Bear would disapprove.
"No. My oldest is playing soccer at a field down the road, so we came here to kill time until practice is over," I said.
"Oh, okay. So he's practicing and you brought the other kids here," he said.
"That's right," I said, not bothering to correct his assumption that my "oldest" was a boy.
We played in the arcade until it was time to pick up the Girl, but we still hadn't cashed in the tickets for any of the glorious prizes available. The Baby and Sam were incensed, but we had to get the Girl, so I told them that we would stop by on our way home for the sole purpose of cashing in their tickets. So, we picked up the Girl and went back to Stars & Strikes to get some plastic crap made in China.
The children were admiring the offerings and I was counting the tickets when Dad came by again, with Allie and Jack in tow.
"You aren't counting those yourself, are you?" he asked.
"Um, yeah. Is there some other way?" What did I know? I've only been there once before and I hadn't let the kids play any of the ticket games that time precisely because I wanted to avoid a big kerfuffle about choosing prizes.
"You feed the tickets into those machines and it counts them for you." Then he winked. Ew.
"Cool, thanks," I said, ignoring the wink.
We got the tickets counted and went back to the counter to consider the prize options. The dad, Allie, and Jack made one more sweep past us and the dad handed me a card. "I got a card from the manager. I don't work at Stars & Strikes." I looked down at the card. It had a name, Mark and he had drawn a smiley face and written a phone number. "I thought that you know, we might hang out some time. The kids might like to..." He trailed off.
"Oh, yeah. Thanks," I said and tossed the card in my purse.
I confess that I do not know the proper response to being propositioned (I'm not crazy, am I? That's what was happening, right?) in the presence of four children. First of all...four kids? Aren't guys supposed to be running for the hills when they see that shit? Unless he was looking for outward signs of my fertility, I don't understand. Anyway, I thought it best to take the card and not get all pearl-clutching, "I beg your pahdon, sir. Ah am a married woman!" I'm non-confrontational by nature, so that was my inclination anyway.
I guess that I was either supposed feel flattered or insulted, but that wasn't how I felt. I just had this weird thought that the last time someone had tried to pick me up, it was just me. Now I will never be "just me" again. Ever. Me comes along with three children. Me comes with all *sweep arms* this. When I made decisions when I was younger, it didn't affect anyone but me. You know the book, "A Wrinkle in Time?" I felt like time had been wrinkled and although I was in 2013, I could clearly see myself in 1999. As the Virginia Slims ads used to say:
So, when I heard the Lumineers song it made me nostalgic in a way that I hadn't expected. I thought about how lovely it would be to just drive and listen to music without hearing complaints from the back of the car. I love my family and my current life more than anything, but there's part of me that misses that me who could drive without packing snack bags and charging iPads and who made mistakes without worrying about anyone else. Don't get me wrong, in many ways that girl was a mess and a total bitch, but she was also unburdened in a way that I will never be again.
I'm sure that this revelation should have happened nine years ago when the Girl was born or when the K and I got married, but I guess that I'm not good at contemporaneous reflection. I remember the first time the Girl got sick with a fever when she was about seven or eight months old. She had a rough night of sleep and when I went into her room in the morning I thought, "Oh, God she's still here." It hadn't really sunk in for me that this baby was my responsibility for all time until that moment.
So, now I get it, the whole mid-life crisis thing. When you are looking back, you don't necessarily see all the negative aspects of being young and free, like trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do; or the fact that songs about unrequited love aren't abstractions. I tossed Mark's card in the garbage as we left Stars & Strikes and today I downloaded, "Ho Hey," so I can listen to it in the carpool line. I'm not saying that I won't cut bangs sometime, but for now the crisis is averted.
Alternatively, I'm thinking of teaching the kids the words to "Bohemian Rhapsody" so we can do this: