When you live in Southern California, you get accustomed to certain parts of life: June gloom, celebrity sightings, incredibly un-functional fashion. And people moving in, and then moving away.
Another of my good friends is moving, and the decision came quickly (though the option was simmering for longer than I knew). It's not just one friend who's moving, actually, but a family - a woman, her husband and their dear nearly-one-year old son. I've been rooting for them to stay, but even more I've been rooting for their joy and nurturing. For now, moving to a place with some better job options and more family is that.
So I'm doing what I've learned to do in my ten years of living in a transient city: helping them wrap up their time with us as best I can.
Last night, that meant watching their son as they packed. I was really looking forward to this because, have you ever been around a one-year-old? I mean, getting them to eat or take a nap can be tricky, but all I was tasked with was being with him so his parents could get some things done. I was told this might include some snuggles, and I knew there would be some giggles, so I was all in. After arriving and catching up with my friend, I was led to the little guy's bedroom where we'd hang out for an hour or two. And then my friend closed the door and I was like, what the heck am I doing?
I mean, we read two books, played with his basket of shoes, found a few blocks. I found some tickly spots on him. I tried to talk to him because I heard that's a good thing, and tried to help him clap. But for that first stretch of time I felt a little bored, and then felt bad for being bored when I was with this incredible little guy. The thing about a one-year-old is that most activities don't last too long, so I felt like I was constantly looking for something new to entertain him with. And then I was trying to entertain myself. I reached for my phone but remembered I'd left it in the other room (and was then grateful for that).
Eventually we settled in. We played alongside each other, and I tracked him as he crawled to see what it was that he saw, what he was crawling toward. He made a few grunts and I imitated. We danced around a little bit. I treasured the moments he wanted to touch my face or be held or laughed. Soon I was done trying to distract him and myself. I was close to just being with him.
And then his mom came in and like that it was time for bed. He and I, we gave each other a snuggle-hug and I said goodbye (though not for the final time, that's not until next week). The good thing about living here is definitely not the seeing people move away. But the gift of having them move in, even if it's not forever, is something that can last.