He's standing at the end of my bed, blond hair wild and wet from his bath. He smiles that gap-tooth, mismatched seven-year-old grin. And my heart melts then and there. Melts so smooth my feet hit the floor.
He nods and disappears.
It's seven on Saturday morning and we head out for a date. Gabe's carrying a mighty jug of Tide. I'm hefting shorts and shirts that have piled high after just two days. We're going to the laundry mat. This time, set apart, is ours.
We climb into a van that's steamy like July. Two blocks to the Caseys, and we each choose a cool drink. Another block to the laundry. And we heft those stinky clothes right in.
Gabe grins as he plunks quarters into the slot. He smiles bigger as he sees the wash, through the round window, circle and slosh. Then he pulls two chairs over.
One for me.
There's a remote and cable TV, and we watch I Love Lucy while the wash twists and turns and we sip our drinks and smile. Then we shut the TV off. We find the camera from my purse and we take silly pictures. Gabe tells a few jokes. We talk about Nate the Grate and Superman and his favorite kind of ice cream. Then the wash finishes and my date is my helper and we shift the wash into our big, black baskets.
As we leave, he's still sharing steady.
And I'm still listening, too.
A broken washing machine is a real drag.
But in the messy muddle of four super-size loads, there's sweet one-on-one with my son.