kids' clothes and car rides and a former self

Today was just one of those days, you know? We had to get out of the house, for the love, despite the fact that it feels like it might start snowing any minute. Which is very dramatic of me, really, as it's in the mid-40's. But after a solid week of warmth and sunshine and no hats, back to normal spring weather feels like a death sentence.

But we put on our hoodies and our hats, grabbed our sunnies and headed out the door. We had two bags full of clothes for a little friend of ours, six months behind Lou in age and so the perfect dumping ground for all those things we no longer need - baby clothes, diapers we've outgrown and haven't used, swings and bassinets and all those little baby things you have and use for five seconds and then hold onto JUSTINCASE they decide they love it again, when you know they won't. Which reminds me, I've got an exer-saucer in the basement we should have brought along as well. Ugh.

We're so lucky, really. We have a friend with twins - A and J - and we give her all of Owen's old clothes for J as he grows out of them, and she gives us all of A's old clothes as they no longer fit her. Lou gets an amazing new wardrobe every four months or so, as does her son, and we both spend far less on clothes than we would have.

In turn, when Lou grows out of everything, we bag it all up and take it over to little miss M, who gets a new wardrobe and her parents then don't have to spend a mint, either. It works out far too well, you'd think we planned it. I promise that's not the case.

On our way over to M's house, stopped at a stoplight, Owen began to tell me about the pretzel he wanted for lunch. His stories have gotten amazing lately, let me tell you. The kid knows how to spin them, and I laugh so hard every time. The pretzel he wanted, very specifically, tasted just like a french fry, and was blue. As all the best pretzels are. So as I turned around at this red light to discuss the pretzel situation, I happened to notice the girl in the car next to us.

I swear, it was me. Well, me at 24, with my bleached out blonde hair cropped just so, tussled with product and extra large sunglasses shielding my assuredly hung-over eyes, a Parliament Light in my hand with the window cracked just enough to let the smoke out and keep me naively convinced the smoke smell wasn't permeating every pore of both the car and myself anyhow.

She was singing along to some song, and I stopped, so startled at seeing this girl, an older version of me so clearly driving along next to me. And here I was, in my late 30's with two little kids singing songs and discussing blue french-fry tasting pretzels as we took baby clothes over to a friend, and I laughed out loud.

That girl, that former me, she was decidedly anti-kids. She didn't ever want to get married, for the love, much less have KIDS to contend with. She was just passing through, finishing up her degree after her original reasons for being in this small town calling itself a city went up into smoke. She was just doing some time before moving on, leaving all of this midwestern smallness behind her.

She had no idea that before that bleach blonde would have a chance to grow out she'd meet the man who would change her mind on all of it, or that in a decade she'd be driving around with two car seats, singing the ABC's on repeat, counting to 20 while always forgetting 15, and reminding her strong-willed little Louise that she really should NOT try to rip the modem out of the wall for the fiftieth time today.

And then, the light changed, and the former version of myself sped off and turned the corner, and we continued on our way. We stopped to get french fries after I convinced Owen that I was probably not going to be able to find a blue fry-flavored pretzel on such short notice, Lou laughed at the construction on the street, and we came home. Hoodies and hats and sunnies on the bench, please, and yes I will get those fries out now. Shoes off, trains out, and life goes on.


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