“Seriously. Incredibly.”

“I think you should say something to that guy,” she whispered.

We had already traded seats so I could have an unobstructed view of him. She had said, “You’ve got to see this guy. No ring on his finger, so we’re good. I’m going to go get some water. Slide into my seat.”

She’s my married friend who instigates her single friends to do bold, courageous acts in the dating world. She paints the scene, invites us to step into it, and prides herself as a Wing Girl.

Most of her friends are embarrassed when she writes a phone number on the restaurant receipt. Most of them bawk at her suggestions.

Hi. Have we met? My name is Tricia. I’ll follow through with your great idea. Especially if there’s a memory at stake, a positive outcome on the line, or a dollar on the table.  If it might add a little plot to this story, then probably don’t dare me if it will embarrass you when I follow through.

“Sure, I’ll say something.”

“You will?!” She barely knew what to do with my cooperation.

“I totally will. Go stand by the door, because when I’m ready to go, I’m really going to be ready to go.” She was giddy with anticipation; I was blazing with courage.

Baseball cap. Five o’clock shadow. Attractively intelligent in his gray t-shirt and distressed jeans. His fingers clicked away on his Mac, as if that isn’t music to my ears.

“Excuse me, sir? Can I say something before I go?”

(Add ‘dark eyes’ and ‘long lashes’ to the above list.)

“Sure.”

(Add ‘great smile.’ The list continues.)

I stood on the other side of his table and gently leaned in. “I just wanted to tell you that you are incredibly good looking.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

(Great smile again.) “Well, thank you. That just made my whole month.”

“You’re welcome. I just thought you should know.”

I tap the table in farewell, and I head on out the door of this chic, hipster coffee shop. Wing Girl is biting her nails, clapping her hands, and bouncing, but she pulls it together and we stroll to the car. Casually. Like I do this all the time.

With the doors closed, she squeals. “I can’t believe you did it! You did it!”

“I totally did. And I might not be done… let me think.” I didn’t have a business card with me, but I had a plethora of 3×5 cards. Naturally. With my girly script, I wrote:

Seriously. Incredibly.
Tricia
tricialottwilliford.com

I walked back in with the hipsters, straight to his table. I slid the card under the corner of his laptop. Eye contact. Smile.

“I just wanted to make your month one more time.”

Tap the table in farewell. Out I go. Finished this time.

For real, they should bottle that boost of confidence and sell it on eBay. Because there’s nothing like it in the world. I could have tap danced to the moon and back.

“People need spoons.”

I was on the phone with Laurelyn. (You know how I love Laurelyn.)

I sat at the top of the stairs in my jammies, since that’s been my talk-on-the-phone spot in every home I’ve lived in since age 11, when I first remember finding any interest in the phone.

The boys came in and out, in and out, in and out. Tuck was perpetually annoyed that I was still on the phone instead of serving him dessert, and he finally brought me a half gallon of ice cream and asked me to take off the lid. He resolved to solve this problem on his own. I applaud this.

A few more trips in and out, now with a grocery bag. And then he passed by with my silverware drawer in his hands.

The whole drawer.

I put Laurelyn on hold for just a moment.  “Tuck?? What are you doing with the silverware?”

“Mommy. People need spoons.”

One of the primary values in our home is hospitality, and I’m teaching the boys that everything we have is for sharing. The cupboards are open to them as long as they are sharing with their friends, and there’s nothing we have that we love too much to give away. There is always more where that came from, and when you’re not sure, give it away.

I think the boys have accepted this value, perhaps even internalized it. Every night, they share snacks with their friends – a bag of Doritos, a box of CapriSun drink boxes, a dozen popsicles.

Tonight they hosted an ice cream party on our front porch.

A dozen children were in my front yard, ranging from first grade to eleventh, and ice cream shrapnel was scattered all around. Three tubs of ice cream, one vanilla and two mint chocolate chip, all the sprinkles from the baking cupboard, an array of plastic plates and cups, and of course, my silverware drawer.

Five teenagers sat on the front porch, in rocking chairs and on the ground, texting and laughing and telling their summertime sagas. Girls were braiding hair. Boys were shooting hoops. And everyone was eating ice cream.

There was laughter. There was community. And in the middle of it all was the pile of books I’d been reading when Laurelyn called. Move your feet, lose your seat.

“Hey, everybody, looks like quite a party out here!”
“Hi, Tucker and Tyler’s mom! Thanks for the ice cream!”
“You bet, guys. I’ll stay stocked all summer. You’re welcome here anytime.”

At 9:47 pm, I called my two children inside. And I’d just like to say that I think 9:47 is entirely generous for a six- and seven-year-old. But they were the hosts of the party, and everyone knows the host can’t leave early. That hospitality rule comes shortly after the first: Always have enough for everyone.

Right now, the boys are tucked in, I’m sitting in my bed, and the party continues. I told them they can stay as late as they want, whenever they want. I’ll leave the porch light on.

I said, “Good night, everybody. You’re my favorite.”

One of the girls said, “I’m writing that in my journal tonight.”
Another said, “It’s going on my FB wall.”

A Costco membership is a small price to pay for my children’s favor among their friends. And as an aside, there is community, friendship, and love. And sprinkles.

On my front porch.

Parade of Home

We have an unofficial Mayor of the Cul de Sac, a jovial guy whom you just really want to be in charge. You could feel like you might want to hand him a microphone, except he doesn’t need one. His voice is booming, his laughter is contagious, he’s the leader of our tribe, and he orchestrated a block party for Memorial Day.

Barefoot children with dirty faces, stained with Orange Crush.
Babies in strollers.
Grills on the sidewalk.
Hot dogs, hamburgers, fruit kabobs, and pies.
No traffic in the street.
Giggles and squeals from the trampolines.
Margaritaville and Brown-Eyed Girl blasting from the speakers of the Ford F-150.
“What brought you to Denver?”
“When did you move to the neighborhood? Oh, you’re the new ones who just moved in!”

There were families of every shape and size,
an ecclectic representation of ages,
a handful of Latter Day Saints who wore nametags but wouldn’t tell any of us their first names,
preferred to be called Sister and Elder,
and they don’t live in the neighborhood and I’m not sure how they became part of the night. But they were many. We grilled hot dogs for them too.

We had so much fun, and we made dozens of new friends. I fluttered about, tapping into the extrovert I once was. It’s good to see that girl come out to play now and then.

Turns out, it’s a neighborhood tradition to visit the home of the newest neighbors, to see what changes have happened since the previous owners moved out, to see how they’ve settled in, and to gather decorating and remodeling ideas.

And we are the new neighbors.

I have to say, in all fairness, Mayor Steve gave me a heads up about this a few weeks ago. I think I thought he was kidding. Who would want to see inside our home, I wondered. Well, about 40 people, to name a few.

So, good thing hospitality is my gig. I opened my doors. Come on in, my new friends. This kind of my favorite thing: when a great party moves right into my house. Sign me up. Every time.

You know what’s also a good thing? That I profess nowhere to be a good housekeeper. Nope. If you want Better Homes and Gardens, then you’ll want to choose a better home that has a garden. But if you’re okay with a modest display of dishes and laundry and fingerprints and splashes of KoolAid and smatterings of BeyBlades, if you’re ready to see grace lived in, then you’re welcome here.

Forty people, from my bedroom to the basement. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It matters not to me who lived here before; I remain convinced this home and this neighborhood were made for us.

When the night was over, when the boys were in bed, and I was in that sleepy, blissful state after euphoric hostessing, I discovered I had left – not just one, but *two* – bras hanging from a doorknob in my bedroom.

So you know. That’s awesome.

Clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.

To Love a Tuesday

Tonight I said goodbye to my girl, Lisa – the first Tuesday to leave the nest. She sent me home with her bridal bouquet, sunflowers wrapped in white satin ribbon, from her wedding on Saturday. They sunflowers would never survive the drive to her new home, so I’ll keep them in a vase on my kitchen counter for the rest of their days.

Lisa bouquet

Tonight, my heart is remembering years of life together. Camping trips. Fourth of July sparklers. Her quick wit. Her sassy confidence. The flowered coffee cup in my cupboard that will forever be hers.

I held her babies before they drifted out of our lives and on to heaven. She knew my husband. Those two facts alone mean she is forever sewn into me.

It is a privilege to love so hard, to ache this much. Spread your wings and fly, beautiful butterfly girl.

p.s. This does not, however, mean that we are accepting applications to fill her spot at the table. She’s not gone. She’s just Skyped in.