Heat lightning crackled in the sky, a large strip of it visible to the left of where I was sitting under the large tent. The deep ocean colors swirled in the layers of clouds moving high up, cool breezes occasionally glancing down upon us below, the sticky, sweaty ones. There would be a quick intake of breath, sitting up taller as if our spines were shocked, our heads tilted towards it, inhaling deeply like one deprived of oxygen.
I held my 4 year old most of the night, his silky, damp curls brushing against my chin. He fidgeted now and then, insisting on several unnecessary bathroom visits and sprinting ahead causing concerned people to turn and stare with eyebrows raised at me, wondering if they needed to grab him. I love the south and it’s people. I smiled, assuring them he was fine even as occasionally had to dart after him in wedge heels, (a sure invention for people who wanted to be taller but still have the ability to run…) He would peer around his shoulder, a grinning mess of mischief, delighted with the thrill from danger on the edge of disobedience. My thrill seeker. I smiled at him and watched him closely even without my eyes on him, listening to the voice that said to give him a little more slack than I’m comfortable with.
Sitting again, I slid around in the plastic seat, the sweat pouring from pores I didn’t realize I had. Having children did this to me. I never was sweaty before I had kids.
I noticed as I walked with my 7 year old that people turned, I assumed because he was so cute -eyes sparkling from behind his glasses and joy almost visibly oozing out of him- forgetting for a moment that he was wearing large, sound dampening headphones. Oh, yes. That. My normal isn’t everyone’s normal. Well, he’s very cute too so perhaps they were looking at more than the headphones. I always hope they can see past that blockade, that little oddity, the different. I always wonder, do people take the time to look a moment longer? To see the fragile beauty in my son? His inner beauty sparks fierce and I have the privilege to see it occasionally ignited in others as they are taken completely aback by how he is made specially. Just for us. Our family.
The music twanged, the country tunes mostly unfamiliar but with the feeling of belonging, all of us together, under the large tent with hundreds around us like a human cocoon. We sat, the breeze blowing more intensely.