Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Holidays

You know, once upon a time it was considered polite not to assume that everyone you spoke to shared the same beliefs as you. Nowadays, if you try that, you're part of a "war on Christmas." So sad.

Bellicose or not, I will continue to be old-fashioned enough to wish that, should you be so inclined, you have a happy Hannukah, or a pleasant Ramadan, a super Solstice, a joyous Kwanzaa, or, yes, even a merry Christmas. And, any which way, a very happy New Year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chapter 8 (concluded)

They spent the afternoon roaming the woods of Rock Creek Park and its environs.  They passed the occasional hiker or biker, depending on which paths they took, but often they were alone amongst the trees.  It was a bit cooler here out of the sun, but very peaceful.  At first Johnny had been a bit nervous, being away from the hustle and bustle of the city—this was more alone than he strictly wanted to be at the moment—but he had to admit that it was pleasant.  This wasn’t a creepy, Hansel and Gretel sort of forest.  It was more like when Amiira used to take him to Great Falls Park, just over the state line in Virginia.  They had gone several times, without his parents of course, and he still had fond memories of it despite how young he had been at the time.  It was like exploring their very own wilderness, away from the crowds of the suburbs.  Still, as the day grew longer, he felt the vague nervousness returning.  There was a sense of isolation, and a feeling of being watched.

Finally Johnny suggested that they head back into the city.  Larissa studied him for a moment, then shrugged and struck off in a new direction through the trees.  Johnny didn’t question that she knew where she was going.  Larissa always knew.

They cut through the cemetery and came out onto the trail very close to where they’d first joined it, earlier that morning.  This time they kept moving south, under Q Street, then under P Street.  The trees were getting thinner and the city traffic was becoming clearer and louder off to their right.  Twenty or thirty minutes later, Johnny was just starting to remark to himself that he’d never been this far south on the Georgetown side of The Creek, when a baseball diamond suddenly appeared to their right.

“Hunh,” Johnny said aloud.  “Where the heck are we?”

“Rose Park,” Larissa replied.  She stayed on the trail until just past the field, then cut off the path and headed to a small children’s playground.  There were a couple of picnic tables on the outskirts, and Larissa picked one and sat down at it.  On the far side of Georgetown, the sun was sinking, and the play area was deserted.  Must be a weeknight, Johnny thought.

And so they had a quiet little picnic with booty from Sandra’s café: cold sandwiches, and cheese, and fruit, and some sort of cream cheese and mushroom puffs, and little dark chocolate cupcakes with pink cherry frosting.  As the sunlight faded, Johnny felt full.  This was an unusual feeling for him.  Johnny had been full only a few times since he’d come to live on the streets, mostly coinciding with his stints in foster care.  He leaned back and savored the feeling.

Larissa was looking towards the street, which Johnny figured was probably 26th or 27th or something like that.  Something in her gaze brought him up out of his well-fed stupor.  “See something?”

She shook her head briefly.

He didn’t see anything either.  “Hear something, then?”

She cocked her head to one side and drew her eybrows together slightly.

Johnny listened.  There was a bit of birdsong left, despite the dying day.  There were traffic noises, despite the lack of visible cars.  There was what was perhaps a fire engine, far away.  There were occasional shouts or screeches or barks, probably from neighborhood kids and their pets, but those weren’t that close either.  There were some rustlings in the bushes, certainly more squirrels.  Squirrels were everywhere in the city.  In fact, if he looked around, he could proably see some.  Anywhere there were people and food, you could be sure to find a bold squirrel on the lookout for droppings.

But, actually, now that Johnny looked around, there were no squirrels.  Or birds, either: all the chirping he could hear was from deeper in the trees towards The Creek.  There were no cats, which should be fairly common this close to a residential area, or rabbits, which should be fairly common this close to Rock Creek Park, although they certainly weren’t as brave as the squirrels.  There was, in fact, nothing moving as far as he could see.

“Say, Larissa, I think it’s time to be going.”

Larissa nodded, still searching the area towards the neighborhood.  They both stood up and quickly packed away the leftovers.  Then they both took a step ... in opposite directions.

Larissa gave him her studying look.  Johnny waved at the sky vaguely.  “Look, it’s getting dark.  Traipsing through the trees in the daytime is fun and all, but I don’t want to be lost in the woods at night.”  Larissa arched an eyebrow.  “Not that we were ever lost today, of course!”  Johnny put up his hands, palms out.  “I’m not saying that, I’m just saying ...  City.  People.  You know?”

Larissa pointed back towards the treeline.  “That way is safer.”

Johnny started to give her a “you must be crazy” look, but was distracted by a soft chuff from the bushes between them and the neighborhood.  He froze.  There was a low growling purr that seemed to have an electronic whine embedded in it.  “What the ...” Johnny started, but Larissa was already heading back towards the trail.  Johnny quickly followed.

They ran along the trail for a few hundred yards, then Larissa cut through the trees back to the other path, that ran along the parkway.  The remnants of rush hour were still clogging the road, and Johnny mentally applauded Larissa’s choice.  He felt safer here, even though the commuters, in their single-minded drive to get back to comfortable suburban homes, were a world away from the two ragamuffin street children.  They slowed down now; passing under another busy street that Johnny felt sure was M Street, the main drag in Georgetown.  Still breathing heavily, they walked a couple hundred feet and passed under another road.  “Pennsylvania,” Larissa said in answer to Johnny’s unasked question.

After emerging from the underpass, they walked past a short grassy area to where the trail crossed the Pennsylvania Street exit off the parkway.  Waiting at the edge of the crosswalk for a few cars to pass, Larissa suddenly spun around and looked back toward the gloom under the bridge.

“What” Johnny started to ask, then he heard it too: a soft metallic click whose echo bounced around with all the carsound from the parkway.  It was almost lost in all the traffic noise, and at first Johnny was sure it must be his imagination, but now he thought he caught a flash of small red light as well, and suddenly it seemed more prudent to assume that he wasn’t hearing things.

“Let’s go,” Johnny said, and Larissa nodded.

They crossed the crosswalk at the next convenient break and hustled, not quite running down the trail.  Ahead was a bridge, and some waterway that intersected Rock Creek (“Chesapeake and Ohio Canal” Larissa muttered under her breath) and they made for it.  Johnny had a flash of Amiira reading him “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  “If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.”  To their left, the parkway too went over a bridge: Rock Creek was wending its way west to meet the old canal.  Although the sound of the traffic and his own heavy breathing should have made hearing anything else impossible, Johnny would have sworn he could hear something in the water now, perhaps the splashing of a large animal, and when they were almost at the abutment of the bridge, a sound rang out, very loud over the sound of the traffic, a primal big cat scream as reproduced on a cheap Casio synthesizer with too much feedback, and Johnny knew that it wasn’t just in their heads because out of the corner of his eye he could see people in their cars looking wildly around for the source of the noise, and the traffic on the parkway slowed to even more of a crawl as the echoes of that cry rolled down Rock Creek.  They froze.  It was now almost full dark and they could see nothing outside of the flashing of car headlights.  Then there was another great splash and then great, heavy wingbeats, followed by a screech that was surely produced by two pieces of rough metal grating against each other but somehow managed to sound like the cry of a great raptor: a hawk, or more likely an eagle.  Johnny instinctively looked up, but the traffic lights had ruined any hope of night vision and it was just darkness up there.  He felt Larissa’s hand clutch his upper arm and then there was a heavy metal scuttling from the other end of the bridge.  Twin red pinpoints of light appeared in the darkness.

Instantly Larissa yanked his arm and plunged down the embankment towards the water.  Without hesitation Johnny followed, although there was no path, the hill was steep, they couldn’t see, and there was water and likely rocks at the bottom.  Fuck it, Johnny thought, and plunged after the small figure disappearing into the bushes in front of him.

They slid more than they ran, but they reached the bottom of the hill without injury and hit the water.  It was cold, but there didn’t appear to be rocks threatening to snap a leg.  Instead of being darker here, practically under the footbridge, it seemed lighter ... possibly the subtraction of the car headlights made it easier for them to see in the gathering twilight.  The water was cold but not freezing, and was almost up to their waists, making it hard to maneuver.

Larissa turned away from the bridge, facing back toward the canal, but another huge splash sounded in front of them, and this time they could make out a large catlike shape.  Johnny knew there were leopards at the National Zoo, which was just a few miles up The Creek.  Not pleasant to imagine one of them having escaped, certainly, but right now it seemed more pleasant than the alternative.  The big cat turned its head toward them, and there were the red dots of light again, not so small this close up, and the fur color was wrong—more tan than tawny—and then it reared up on its hind legs and just stood there, flashing claws that somehow were made of a bright, silvery metal.  Larissa stared.  “Cougar,” she said.  “Puma.  Mountain lion.  Catamount.  Puma concolor.”

Johnny was pulling the back of her light green jacket as he backpedalled under the bridge, where he could hear water rushing into the creekbed.  “Yeah, right, red-eyed puma with silver claws standing on its hind legs.  Don’t identify, just move!”

Suddenly there was more splashing behind them and for a moment Johnny’s heart stopped, but whatever it was rushed past them and planted itself between them and the cougar-creature.  From this angle, it looked like a massive black wolf, big enough that the water just lapped at its belly, except for its heads, which looked more like coyotes.  Johnny blinked.  Yes, heads, with an S ... three, to be precise.  Two of them snapped ferociously at the man-cougar, which in turn flashed back silver fangs.  One narrow-muzzled head turned to look back over its shoulder and stared directly at them.  The mouth did not open, but Johnny heard a voice nonetheless: Run!


You don’t need to tell me twice, thought Johnny, half-hysterical, and he pulled Larissa back towards the rushing water, which turned out to be a huge outflow pipe.  It was covered with a sturdy metal grate to keep people from getting inside it.  Johnny pulled at it, pointlessly.  It was not going to budge in this lifetime.

“Jackals,” Larissa said calmly.

Johnny looked wildly at her.  “What??” he barked.

“Not coyote heads, jackal heads,” she corrected.  “Golden jackals.  The ones that statues of the god Anubis were based on.  Black-backed and side-striped jackals can’t bare their fangs, of course.”

Johnny gritted his teeth and shook the metal grating as hard as he could (which wasn’t very hard).  “Not helping!” he said.

Larissa didn’t answer.  She was busy watching the three-jackal-headed dog and the metal-fanged were-cougar circling each other, snarling and growling and snapping frenziedly.  The canine had more teeth, but the feline had height and a longer reach.  Johnny decided that Larissa wasn’t going to be immediately useful.

He was about to turn away from the pipe and head further down Rock Creek when he felt something on the other side of the grate.  “Felt” wasn’t exactly the right word, though ... sensed it somehow, in a way that was slightly reminiscent of how he had perceived the mist, but also slightly different.  Without thinking, he reached for it, both figuratively and literally, and nearly bit his tongue when he realized that his arm was now inside the pipe—not just stuck through the bars of the grate, but literally _through
the metal, all the way to his shoulder, which now had crossbars running through it.  For a moment, he almost lost a concentration he hadn’t even really known he had achieved, and he sensed this would have been disastrous.  But he shoved the panic in his brain into a back corner and relaxed again.  He flexed his arm forward.  Now the grate was practically touching his neck.  He flailed around behind him with his other arm, feeling for Larissa.  For a moment he became convinced that the arm was just passing unnoticed through her as well, but then he connected.  He pulled on her jacket and she floundered backwards, still calm, still not taking her eyes off the two creatures.  He could still hear them, sort of, but sound was muffled again, as it had been with the mist.  He pulled her again and brought her back into contact with the grate.  Now was the time to see if he could do what he thought he could.  He felt as if he ought to be able to, but then how could you trust any sort of instinct about something this alien?

He took a half-step forward himself, and now the metal bisected him nearly perfectly.  He knew that if he lost control now, there would be two Johnny Hellebores, but neither one would be much use to anyone.  He ignored the frenzied terror that fought to come bubbling out of his mind and spilling out of his ears.  He twitched something inside him, and then he gave Larissa one last, good pull, and she stepped backward cleanly through the grate.

Slowly she put her hands up to touch the metal.  Hastily Johnny pulled himself the rest of the way through and let go of everything.  When Larissa’s hand brushed the metal grate, he could tell it was solid to her touch.  And his hearing returned in a rush, and the sounds out there were frightful indeed.  “Hey, L?” he said softly.  “Let’s move a little further down this pipe, okay?”  She turned and stared up into his eyes, but still didn’t speak.  He wondered if something in her might have just snapped, but he comforted himself that she didn’t talk that much at the best of times.

He pulled her close and they moved cautiously down the outflow drain.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chapter 8 (continued)

As they passed through Dupont Circle, Johnny asked Larissa where they were headed.  The little girl shrugged.  “Park,” she said shortly.

Johnny considered that.  “Rock Creek, or Mitchell?”

Larissa merely arched an eyebrow.

“Nothing wrong with Mitchell Park, you know,” Johnny contributed.  “It’s a nice little park.”  Larissa kept walking.  “Maybe not as big as Rock Creek Park ...”  Again the eyebrow.  “Okay, not even remotely as big as Rock Creek.  But, you know ... it has tennis courts, and ...”  At this point, Larissa actually stopped and stared at him.  “No, I know: we don’t play tennis.  I’m just ...”  He stopped and laughed at himself.  “I’m just babbling, apparently.  Lead on, Macduff.”

“Lay on.”


Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries ‘Hold, enough!’”  Larissa paused.  “Not that you want me to attack you, I suspect.”  Johnny smiled.  “Perhaps ... Forward the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!  Although of course that’s still a bit martial for the sentiment you were trying to express.  You could try ...”  But Johnny was laughing openly now.  Larissa stopped and looked at him.

“No, nothing.” Johnny was still chuckling.  “It’s just good to be back to normal.”  He looked around the crowds walking up and down Massachusetts Avenue.  “Or as normal as our lives usually are, I suppose.  Just ... carry on.  You lead, and I shall follow.”

Larissa looked at him for a moment longer, then turned and resumed walking.

At Q Street they turned left and walked across the bridge over the Rock Creek Parkway.  Just past the end of the bridge, they ducked off the sidewalk to the right and walked down through the trees to the bike path.  The trees were just starting to change colors.  Though the sounds of traffic still came to them clearly, it was as close to walking in the wilderness as it got in DC.

They followed the path, occasionally spying the outer edges of the cemetery to their left, then across Devil’s Chair Bridge, where the bike path rejoined the parkway.  Following the countours of the busy road, they eventually walked underneath Massachusetts, then the bike path cut across Rock Creek again.  Here Larissa took a left onto the footpath and they walked back they way they had come, but on the other side of the creek now, back under Massachusetts again.  It was a pleasant two miles or so altogether, accompanied by birdsong and the busy rustlings of squirrels.  Even walking alongside the parkway, this was still a place where you could forget you were actually in a city of half a million people.  After crossing another small creek, Larissa abruptly left the footpath and led them unerringly through the trees until they came out in the heart of Montrose Park.  Then they strolled west down R Street and took a right on Wisconsin.

They were in Georgetown now, a place where Johnny rarely came.  The more upscale parts of town contained more rich people, which theoretically meant people with more coin to spare, but it also meant people with far less tolerance of ragged street urchins.  But Larissa seemed just as much at home here as in any of the “bad” parts of town (though even the street people stayed out of the really bad neighborhoods).  She walked confidently down the sidewalk, ignoring anyone who looked askance at her.

They crossed to the west side of Wisconsin and approached a small café.  Johnny looked at Larissa somewhat nervously.  “Hey, L?  I’m not sure we can afford ...”  Larissa ignored him and opened the door, ushering him inside.

The interior of the place was as fancy as he had feared.  Johnny didn’t normally feel that dirty, but it was undeniable that he generally wore the same clothes every day, and only got to wash them once a week or so at best.  He was sure he didn’t smell that hot compared to the sort of people that would frequent this upscale eatery.  He felt several eyes on him, but no one commented.  Larissa took his arm and led him up to the counter.  A young, very well-dressed woman came over and looked them up and down.  “Can I help you?” she asked, with vague disapproval.

Larissa ignored her and waved to someone in a back room.  Immediately an older woman with slightly graying brown hair piled on her head came out and flapped a hand at the waitress.  “Never mind, Mary, I’ll take care of them.”  She beamed down at Larissa.  “And how’s my secret weapon today?”

Johnny blinked.

The woman lifted a hinged countertop and ushered them behind the counter.  Ignoring Mary’s flustered look, she shooed them into the back room, which turned out to be a small office just off the kitchen.  She closed the door behind them and offered them chairs.  “Who’s your friend?” she asked Larissa.

Still somewhat confused, Johnny stuck out his hand.  “Johnny Hellebore, ma’am.”

“Oh, pooh,” she said, clasping his hand briefly.  “I’m not a ‘ma’am,’ I’m just Sandra.  Very pleased to meet you, Johnny.”  She turned back to Larissa, still smiling broadly.  “And is Master Johnny one of the priveleged few?”

Larissa nodded.

“Ah, good, that’ll make things easier.”  She turned back to Johnny.  “Such a pain, you know, not being able to use the name.  I generally register her under ‘Elizabeth’ and then just call her ‘Liz.’”  She lowered her voice conspiratorially.  “But Larissa is a much prettier name.”

Johnny nodded, more confused than ever.  Obviously this was a friend.  But what did she mean by “register”?

“Well!” Sandra continued.  “Let me get you some food first off.  I’m sure you’re both quite hungry.”  She bustled off to the kitchen.  Larissa sat on the chair, swinging her legs back and forth.  Johnny looked around.  The walls held various plaques and certificates.  Here was a caterer’s license made out to Sandra Hunter.  Here was a diploma for an Advanced Culinary Arts degree from Stratford University, also for Sandra Hunter.  And here was a plaque for 1st place in a ...

Sandra came back in juggling several plates.  “Ah, so you’ve seen our trophies!” she said, beaming.  “That one was for last year’s tournament.  Substantial cash prize, that one was.  And this one over here”—she had put the plates down on the desk and was proudly pointing out further plaques now—“was the year before, we came in second, and this one ...”

Johnny interrupted.  “Second?  With Larissa on your team?  Seriously?”

Sandra frowned.  “Well, you know, there is a bit of luck involved.  The other team got the better die rolls, that’s all.”

Johnny put up a hand.  “Sorry.  It’s just ... I mean, she knows everything.”

Sandra immediately put her huge grin back on.  “Yes, isn’t she wonderful?  First place year before last as well.”  She pointed at yet another plaque.

Johnny nodded.  “I didn’t actually know there were organized tournaments for Trivial Pursuit.”

Sandra nodded enthusiastically.  “Oh, yes.  Well, you know, it’s not a national sport or anything, but we have a pretty big group that covers the greater metro area, and we do an annual tournament.  And I’ve been playing for years now.  Then I found Larissa here ... and, well, the rest is history.”  She looked at them both, still smiling.  “But, please, don’t let me carry on.  I’ve brought you the best my humble kitchen has to offer.  Eat, eat!”

As it turned out, Sandra’s “humble kitchen” was quite impressive.  There was French onion soup, and pasta salad, and hot prime rib sandwiches with gooey brie cheese.  It was all amazing, as far as Johnny was concerned.  He hadn’t eaten this well in ... well, however long it had been since he left home.  And probably not for a while before that: the last few weeks, between his father’s exit and his mother’s final breakdown, the cooks were just killing time while they found new jobs.

As he ate, Larissa was packing up food into a curious vest thing.  “What’s that?” Johnny asked, his mouth half-full.

Sandra jumped in.  “These are marvelous.  You wear them under your coats ... here, I’ve got one for you too.”  She held it up.  “You see, so that you can carry food around without being obvious.  I understand that in the circles you two travel in, carrying a bag or pack or something along those lines would just be inviting trouble.”  Johnny had to agree with the wisdom of this.

“Thanks Sandra,” said Larissa when she was all packed up.

Sandra was still beaming.  “My pleasure, honey!  You know I’m here for you, any time.  Half that cash prize is technically yours, you know.”

Larissa gave a faint smile.  “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it.”

Sandra chuckled.  “Benjamin Franklin today, is it?  Very well, then, I’ll hold on to your half and just mete it out in foodstuffs and vests.”  Her laugh was unaffected and infectious.  Johnny couldn’t help but grin himself.

As he finished up, Larissa was handing him a vest to wear himself.  He took his coat off, put the vest on, and then replaced the coat over it.  The vest itself was light, but the food packed in it gave it a little heft.  Still, it wouldn’t weigh him down too much, and the extra food was certainly welcome.  This was dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow, at least, and possibly more.  None of the food in the vest was hot, so it would probably keep just fine until they got around to eating it.  Additionally, there was a thin thermos attached under one arm.  Water, most likely.

As Larissa zipped up her own jacket, she pointed at the half-finished menu Sandra had been working on when they came in.  “Try salmon roe here,” she said, putting a finger about halfway down the page, which was upside-down to them.

Sandra scooted around the desk and put on a pair of half-moon glasses from her pocket.  Squinting at the page a bit, she drew her eyebrows together.  “Red caviar?” she mumbled.  “Salmon roe, salmon roe ...”  She trailed off, gazing now at the ceiling, lost in thought.  Suddenly she clapped her hands and broke into a grin.  “Yes, salmon roe!  Of course!”  She rushed around the desk and siezed Larissa’s head, kissing her crown.  “You are brilliant, my little partner!”  She turned her happy expression onto Johnny.  “You must come again, Master Johnny.  And take care of this one.  She is precious.”

Johnny nodded.  “Yes, thank you, Ms. Sandra.  And yes, I’ll take good care of her.”

Together, they left the café, Sandra waving at them happily.  Larissa led Johnny on down Wisconsin until they reached Whitehaven, where they turned right to head toward Dumbarton Oaks Park.

section break


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Life in a New House

Of course, the downside of cautioning your audience never to read your blog is that there is no one to notice if you happen to miss a week. Which I did last week, as it happens. If you’re faithfully not reading this blog, you might have guessed that the reason has to do with the last blog post I managed to get up. And you’d be right. Last week at blog posting time I was in between packing and moving, and in no fit state to compose anything worth reading.

And this week I am sitting in a new family room, listening to the rain coming down and thanking all that is holy that I don’t have to worry about my office flooding any more, watching the same TV, but it’s up higher so that it looks bigger now, less worried about the noise drifting up the stairs because the stairs are halfway across the house, contemplating a very short walk to my room when it’s time to turn in, and hearing the very muffled noises my children are making now that their computers and televisions and whatnot are a floor away. Overall quite satisfying.

It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, of course. There was a gas leak in the backyard, so they turned off the gas back there and now we can’t test out our new spa. The upstairs furnace wouldn’t come on during the house inspection, so they “fixed” that ... now it won’t turn off. We just shelled out nearly $500 for a new pool sweeper and over $200 in floor lamps—we used to go to Target or Wal-Mart once a month and blow 100 bucks a pop, but apparently that’s nothing compared to what we’re going to spend at Home Depot now. And this is not even considering the actual mortgage payment, the first of which won’t be due until the end of the month.

But, hey, nothing’s perfect, right? Not even this house, although it’s pretty damn close. Every time I think about all the little things that are wrong, I start to feel guilty. I have, after all, just bought a seven bedroom house. With four bathrooms. Nearly 3,000 square feet. With a pool and a spa. And a covered patio on one side, and an enclosed garden area on the other. And a two-car garage with a sort of a deck on top of it. And I got it for probably about two-thirds what I would have paid for it not three years ago. And I got a 30-year fixed mortgage with the lowest rate we’ve seen since they started tracking such things. So, you know, when I point out the fact that the driveway is way too narrow to comfortably fit both cars into, or the fact that there's so many freakin' windows in the place that there's nowhere to put any bookcases, I can’t help but feel downright ungrateful. I suppose it’s like the man says: I can’t complain, but sometimes I still do.

But perhaps you don’t want to hear me ramble on about my new house (although I would refer you once again to the name of this blog). Perhaps I should try to place this experience into a larger social context. I suppose I could wax philosophical about the large quantities of stuff we tend to amass over our lifetimes. This new house supposedly has about 700 more square feet than the last one and yet we’re still up to our ears in boxes over here. It’s overwhelming sometimes how much crap we seem to have accumulated.

Or, I could talk about the powerful feeling you can derive from knowing that, no matter how screwed up things are, at least it’s your house. Just the feeling of ownership, of knowing that it’s all yours, warts and all, is worth quite a lot.

But I suppose, in the end, the main thing is that it’s a pretty awesome feeling to know that your family finally has a place in the world. Most likely, assuming we can afford to keep making the payments on this beast, this will be the house where my elder son learns to drive, and where my younger son learns to read. The place where any future children are brought home to from the hospital, or the birthing center, or maybe even be born right here inside these four walls. For the foreseeable future, this is the place where we will swim, and sleep, and play, and eat, and watch, and wait, and live, and love. This is home.

And that's profound enough for me, I think.