Last Friday, we journeyed to an old-fashioned downtown about 30 minutes north of us. We drove off the busy highway, and found ourselves on quiet back roads almost immediately. Less than five minutes from the hustle and bustle, a college appeared on our right, and further ahead, a tiny downtown. I felt transported back about fifty years, to small-town America. As we pulled into town, live jazz drifted in through the open windows and sunroof. We parked the car and waited for Miles to wake from his impromptu car nap, and for twenty minutes, Patrick and I just chatted and laughed.
When Miles finally woke, we pulled out the wagon and meandered up the hill, over the train tracks, and glanced in shop windows. The buildings were old, red-brick, and comfortingly squat. After only a block, downtown faded into a quiet neighborhood with big, old homes and manicured lawns. On the deck of one, two couples sat sipping wine in the fading light.
Within moments of arriving, I was in love.
We ate authentic Mexican food in an old boxcar-turned-restaurant, and conversed with the owner about Latin American literature.
Miles found a playground where small children played with their parents, and happy couples walked by with arms entwined, and dogs barked excitedly at the prospect of a thrown ball.
We watched our son stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the trains that rumbled through every twenty minutes or so, and we grinned proudly when he waved and said, "Bye-bye, Train! See you nec time!"
As the sun sank, and the moon rose, we found our way back to the shops for the main event of the evening - the paper lantern launch. I have wanted to be part of a lantern launch since I first teared up over the scene in Tangled. It just looked so . . . magical. Even though I completely understand the science that makes it work.
We bought our lanterns, and were ready to launch them, when the man who was assisting with the launch asked if we wanted to write anything on it. In that moment, the wind picked up, and I knew what I had to write.
I grabbed the orange lantern and wrote, "Love you, Grandma. Thanks for the wind." Patrick took the other and wrote, "Grandmas and Grandpas - We miss you. Love, Miles" When they disappeared into the night sky, I got a little choked up. And when the wind began to blow moments later, the tears finally spilled over. I hugged Miles to my chest, and wrapped my arm around Patrick, and stared off into the night, thanking God for moments like these.