Over a year ago I was cooling down after a run on a muggy Jeddah night, pacing around the parking lot outside my house in the darkness. I was staring at the ground, hands on my hips, when a Scandinavian man happened by, asking for directions to the compound park. He was friendly, and I was feeling chatty, so we stood in the dark for a half hour and got to know one another. At one point, he noted that many expatriate men lived in Jeddah without their families, who remained in their home countries, which almost without exception are more pleasant than Saudi Arabia. I pointed to my little house and told him my family was in Jeddah with me. He asked if I had children. I said yes, I have four, and we looked up at the upstairs windows, curtains open, lights on, and the heads of one of my kids bobbed past. He gave a soft sound of admiration, and I remember what he said then: "My friend, you are a lucky man indeed."
It's funny how you forget almost everything that almost everyone says, for the sheer volume of it all. But funny how you remember every tone and syllable of seemingly very forgettable words on very forgettable nights. I couldn't tell you why I remember what the Scandinavian guy said when I can't remember his face or his name or even his home country. Maybe it's because when he said what he said, the truth of it settled on me; it was something I already knew, but sometimes you can know something even better than you know it now. And after he spoke, I somehow knew better than I did the moment before that I was, indeed, a pretty lucky man, for those four priceless little people scurrying around in my home on that hot night in Jeddah.
We visited lush botanical gardens here in San Salvador a couple days ago. I took a couple hundred pictures of my kids. None of them were perfect. The two above are a touch blurry, but I don't care that much. Pictures can be flawed and perfect at the same time, just like people. Just like my little people.
Last night Violet woke us up at 1 am. Nightmare. Dinosaurs in her room, she insisted. I was thinking how she was pretty obnoxious at about that moment. Then she climbed into bed, buried her face in the crook of my arm, wrapped her little arms around my neck, and drifted off to sleep. And then I changed my mind. She was pretty obnoxious and pretty perfect, both at the same time.