Aidan and I were driving home from his second guitar lesson last week, and we wound our way up a side street in our neighborhood. It was late, the road was empty, and so I was able to glance around at the Christmas lights dangling from evergreens and trees that shone through the windows.
On this street, most of the homes are two or three story row homes, the old kind with wrap-around porches and wooden steps with rickety railings and kids' bikes left out in the cold.
In my mind, I pictured the carefree lives of their residents, the quiet, uncomplicated lives of families without hardship. I know this is folly, that other people have difficulties and tragedies, but Joan Didion isn't the only one capable of magical thinking. It's not helpful to indulge in this bad habit of mine, but there it is.
"I wish our lives were simpler, Aidan," I said as I drove up the hill, focusing again on the road ahead. "Less chaotic and complicated."
"It can be simple, Mom," he replied in his confident voice. "You just have to live in the moment. It's simpler that way."