Friday, February 8, 2013

An Afternoon Adventure

  I left yesterday afternoon with Jude unsure of our destination. When we reached the end of the complex we took a right. We went passed the Romanian church, looking at the world in wonder.

When we reached the first big intersection we decided not to cross. The air was chilly and brisk, as warm as it would get. Perhaps a touch too cold as Jude began to fuss. Going back at this point was not an option. We had come almost a mile away from home. I needed to tend the baby before we could go any further, one way or the other.

I looked around us for a place of refuge. Nearby was a quaint mom and pop cafe, a Starbucks, and Lumberjack's diner. They have a chain of them out here, all with giant statues of an ax wielding lumberjack in front.

Starbucks is no place for a baby, and the smaller cafe seemed too transparent to breastfeed comfortably should the need arise -- with walls on three sides made up of floor to ceiling windows. This left Lumberjack's, a place we've been to frequently for breakfast.

I knew the wait staff was friendly, mostly women, and the layout comfortable and private. Less overwhelming for a baby. At two o' clock we had the whole place mostly to ourselves. Only two other tables were occupied, one by a tiny old woman shoveling soup by the spoonful into her mouth and the other by an older gentleman with a kind face and a hat on that identified him as a veteran of the Korean war.

As I sat down and ordered a simple hot chocolate this man who sat across from me in the table next to mine nodded a hello as the waitresses fawned over Jude. Lumberjack's has a senior special from two until five where people over the age of sixty-five get two meals for only twelve dollars. While I had a feeling the old woman would be by herself, since she had already ordered her food, this man sat with only a mug of coffee to warm his hands. Clearly he was waiting for a friend.

In the meanwhile he spoke to me with a voice that complimented the warm laugh lines age had left on his face. He asked how old my little one was and complimented his good behavior. I sat with the baby in my lap and his stroller pulled up alongside the table, as out of the way as I could make it. Jude is very personable, even with strangers and he smiled at the man as we spoke. As I sipped my hot chocolate and warmed up this man told me the story of his first born.

He was only twenty years old and in the military stationed someplace far from home. His wife, the love of his life, gave birth at the service hospital and he was too afraid to hold his son until they got home. He was just so tiny and perfect. Once they had gone home, he held him for the first time very nervously in bed. Just in case. He said in that moment, his life changed forever. Holding that little bundle of raw innocence and possibility.

He had only wanted one child, but found he loved being a father so much that he wound up with four more children! Sadly they all live out of state now. Just as he finished his tale his friend arrived, an older Korean man who brought with him a deck of cards and some sort of block made from a pale wood with two pegs to keep score. One peg topped with onyx, the other topped with jade so you could easily tell them apart.

I greeted the new man politely and then left them to their game as I continued drinking my delicious hot chocolate.  When Jude got tired of sitting down, I stood up and gently swayed with him as he looked out of the window. When he grew bored of that, I turned to face the other way so that he could watch the cooks in the kitchen. I decided this would be an opportune time to settle up, so I paid for my drink in case I needed to make a hasty retreat with a crying baby. The waitress, a young red headed woman who had earlier complimented Jude and I on our own red hair, filled up a travel cup with more hot chocolate free of charge.

I put the travel cup in the cup holder on the stroller and held Jude close, looking out of the window myself now. Wondering if it was going to rain again or not. The original man at the table across from me remarked that I must love being a mother. I couldn't help but smile because it was true and he could tell just by observing. I then buckled Jude safely back into his stroller, bid the old men farewell and headed homeward bound.

Just before we got there Jude fell asleep, so rather than disturb him by taking him up a flight of stairs I just continued to make rounds near the creek until he woke up on his own. Then we went home.

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