Friends in odd places…

J loves to go to the library.  This has been so since he first went as a very young child.  We don’t know exactly WHY he loves it so much…but there seems to be a peace that settles over him as we pull into the parking lot and he smiles.  Once in a while he will choose a book, but mostly he likes to walk around, looking at the neatly organized yet mismatched spines of books lined up on shelves.

Before the advent of a DVD player to our household (something that came later to our home than to others,) J would go to the library to rent VHS tapes of movies he loved.  He knows they won’t play in the machine he now owns, but he still walks around looking at the Children’s Movies section with the same affection as if he was walking among friends.  His preference for Winnie the Pooh would be better served if he still had the old VHS tapes with his favorite episodes; I admit that I don’t miss the more recent incarnation of the characters as Disney re-tooled the stories in the late eighties and early nineties, but J smiles with the same fondness I display when I see items that remind me of childhood.

Which leads me to the next place J loves to go to…the antiques shop.  I know, I know…WHY????  First, the antiques store we frequent (in the least snobbish way possible, I’d like to clarify) is in an old glass factory by the river.  The building has so much character that I would much love to sit there for hours and listen to the beams, metal, water flowing nearby, horns on boats…yes, I’m weird that way.  Second, the corridors are wide, as are the stairwells.  J doesn’t feel boxed in either at the library or at the antiques store…

Yesterday, after MONTHS of eyeing it, we bought a beautiful old cedar chest.  We like old furniture because it’s got character and it’s well made.  I am a little tired of putting together things that, with one millimeter of deviation, will be pierced in an unsightly manner by a cheap screw that will forevermore be a blight I cannot ignore.  So…this cedar chest waited for me since late February and, finally, I decided that it is a piece of furniture that I can love forever, plus the price was not mind-boggling or pocket-ripping.  So, there it is, up against the wall, full of blankets that will not be extracted until the Fall, and it looks perfect, sturdy and we took our time to buy it.

J walked into the antiques store and looked around with what can only be described as awe.  They have so much glassware, and he knows not to touch it, so he holds his hands together and moves gingerly.  They have glass in every color you can imagine, and shelves and shelves of it.  J leans forward, peers at it, and then slowly backs away.  Once in a while I’ll guide him to something that I want him to see: “look, when I was little, my great-aunts would buy me pattern books so I could learn to embroider tea towels like these,” “oh!  It’s the onion-head and the beet-head pattern!,” “I had this book when I was little…see, it comes with a 45 and you can read the story as you listen to it…I had this one…”  J looks at me like I came from another planet.

J also likes to go to the stand-alone bakery in the middle of town.  We wait until the people with dogs walk away after buying their pastries and coffee.  He always chooses the same thing, and he always says THANK YOU quite prettily to the girls.  Everyone he meets says the same thing: he’s so happy!  I want to tell them that he isn’t always like that, but I want them to think of him as the joyful creature who happily dances in front of the display cases, who runs his fingers over the spines of books, who whoops with pleasure when he sees Cowboy Pooh on the shelf even though he can’t rent it…

J is a funny, happy person…he is also very perceptive.  He hasn’t wanted to get into TGG’s car yet.  It’s almost as he is reverent about it; we’ve told him that’s TGG’s car and he can ride in it, but he hasn’t asked to go anywhere.  We’ve shown him “look, it’s in the garage!” and he circles it while smiling.  I think he knows that this is TGG’s treasure right now, and he wants his brother to savor it before he barges in and takes some of the “newness” out of it.  I’m hoping by next weekend this long-distance love affair will peter out…even TGG says “I just want to give him a ride!!!”

Of course, J has also been acting a little comedically when he sees we’re ALL talking like grown-ups.  It’s been a few weeks since this started, but it never ceases to make us laugh.  If J enters the room and TGG, Dada and I are immersed in what seems an “adult” conversation, J approaches us with a look of determination about him, sticks out his hand and asks to shake ours.  One by one, he goes around the room, pumping our hands in a hearty shake that says “damn glad to meet you!!!”  We don’t know where he got this, but we’re thinking he can now safely run for office…minor office…to be President (which he couldn’t be as he wasn’t born in a State,) he’d have to kiss babies, too.  I don’t think J would know what to do with a baby if he had one near, and I’m assuming he’d equate patting a baby’s head with petting one of the cats.

Our trip to the library yesterday was nice, and J was happy with the books, the sunshine, the family-centric errand…he was happy helping load the cedar chest in the van and carrying it into the house.  He was just happy to be with us…

We were happy to be with him, too…


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