I was sitting at my desk working on the second book in the Blackjack trilogy when I heard a whoop of delighted laughter from the tiny dark green room next to my office. The room we call the guest room/library.
“Come here! You’ve got to see this,” Polly said.
I try to be obedient, so I hurried next door with no idea what to expect.
She pointed out the window. a dozen or so of the neighborhood kids were in the street. About midway along our cul de sac. They’re often out there playing. Bikes, scooters, soccer balls. It was the usual bunch. A couple of them were maybe six or seven, some more like eight to ten, and some somewhere between ten and twelve. They always reminded me of the group of kids who played outside our grocery store all those long years ago. My gang. The big kids, little brothers and sisters, the slightly bigger kids who were in the process of growing out of the group.
But I’d never seen my gang doing what these kids were doing. In couples. Waltzing.
Like a scene from Anna Karenina.
When Polly mentioned it to Jesus and Fred, our every-once-in-a-while handymen, Jesus had a handle on it. He said they were probably practicing for a quinceanera.
I thought about trying to get a picture of them out there, two by two, like a musical Noah’s Ark, but I couldn’t get a good shot through the window and I couldn’t bring myself to go down the driveway and take one. I didn’t want to make them self-conscious.
Instead I went to Wikipedia to learn, at least, how to spell it. And to learn that someone in the neighborhood was turning 15. She was about to become a woman.
The view wasn’t very good from my office window, either. Cars in the driveway obscured the asphalt ballroom. But I kept stretching to look. They were having fun with their stiff little grownup performance. Every so often they’d stop and take a break, wander around chatting. But then they’d get right back to work. No clowning around.
After more than an hour of this they all drifted away. I was left feeling great about the future. I had thought attitude like that was a thing of the past.
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