It was late yesterday when I pulled into my neighborhood and rounded the corner towards my house. A slanting sun setting behind me rested its hand against our sliding back door near the kitchen where I saw a little girl in a pink dress watching for me in the window. Who knows how long she had been standing there, but as soon as she saw my shiny silver car she immediately started jumping and spinning in circles in the air. Even at such a distance, I could make out Lydia’s enthusiastic announcement that I was home.
By the time I passed the house and pulled in the driveway on the other side, the front door was already open and a pair of barefooted gypsies were dancing their way down the sidewalk towards my car. A little boy stood behind them on the porch smiling, waving a closed fist in the air above his head. The girls waited until the engine was shut off, then they lunged forward opening my car door like the hatch of a returning space shuttle. One of the girls began tugging on my arm. Another little girl pried herself under the steering wheel and tried to find the button to release my seat belt.
“Hold on! Hold on!” I said, trying to put some things in my work bag and zip it closed.
They backed away, each telling a different breathless story about the day. But as they backed away, a small head broke through from between them and charged into the vacuum at my car door. He moved with a determined single mindedness and clawed his way up onto my lap before I or either one of the girls could react.
“Boof!” he announced, showing all of his teeth to me and everyone else in the neighborhood.
I squinted at him. The girls rushed forward again crowding in once more.
“Boof!” he said again, holding up his closed fist in front of my nose.
I leaned back and slowly peeled his fingers apart. In his palm was a single shiny pearl. The last remnant of a broken toy necklace long since gone. I held it up to the light and smiled.
“Boof?” He asked.
“Boof!” The girls laughed to each other in agreement.
“Boof,” I said simply, placing the pearl back into his sticky hand. His fingers closed around it.
And that was the moment. That was it. No fireworks. No carpet of kings or camera crews waiting. No autographs, or news vans. No great conclusion.
I was just another man arriving home after a long day at work. A lost life in a sea of lives. But then there was this. Suddenly I was here in this smaller world where I am everything. A single plastic pearl brought like a jewel to greet me in my driveway. A daughter’s hands desperate to pull me free of the car. A look out posted at the gates to announce my arrival. And I am propelled. I am sustained. I am alive.