Spoonful of Sugar

Last week my dear friend Megan and her family moved out of the house next door–moved on from their Seattle adventure and on to the next adventure in Chicagoland, where they found their dream neighborhood, dream house, and dream job. I don’t know how to describe the past three years I’ve had living next door to Megan. It’s like the Mary Poppins movie except instead of a nanny dangling from that umbrella was a magical, sparkly, brand new unicorn friend.

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Megan used to work at Disneyworld. The current version of Megan is a fifth grade teacher. When any of her students had a birthday she’d leave a handful of pixie dust on their desks.* Real pixie dust, she added. Her kids might be skeptical at first but the more time they spent in her class, the more they came to believe in magic, too, and the more they believed in the wishes they made. As proof of the strength of Megan’s magic, I should mention that even the fifth grade boys would blow the pixie dust off their desks and make wishes.

You know what I miss? I miss seeing their bathroom light at dinner time and our family’s guessing game of what’s going on in that bathroom. When we told Megan about the game, she started placing various objects on the windowsill just to keep us guessing. That’s what kind of neighbors we were.

We lived so much life together in three years. We went to the zoo and science center together, had spontaneous dinners and overly planned parties together. We sat on the grassy knoll at the beach and watched 4th of July parades together.

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We doubled dated, ate huge breakfasts at the Maltby Café, stayed up until 2AM talking when there was that much talking to be had. There were Christmas Eves and summer BBQs, football games with fried chicken, 80s parties with bad hair. We spent weekends at Whidbey Island and Suncadia.  We’d accidentally find ourselves at a vodka bar in the middle of a grocery trip.

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We spent so many afternoons at the beach, Megan in her red swimsuit with white polka dots, her belly getting bigger and bigger until George was ready to pop out. And when he did, I was the lucky one who got to bring Cal to the hospital to meet his baby brother. (Talk about magic!)

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Megan and her family would show up on Halloween as a Jurassic Park crew or the cast from Curious George.

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We shared books and recipes, classroom ideas, cookies, Tupperware, and a slightly inappropriate sense of humor.

Megan’s the kind of mom who doesn’t overreact when her kid drops a plate of food on the floor. The kind of Mom who, when you ask about her boys, doesn’t tell you about their latest and greatest accomplishments but instead tells about The Horrific Poop Incident of Last Saturday and asks again for the name of the carpet cleaning company you use.

Megan just gets what life is really about. She knows that life is about going on a drive to help your kids fall asleep and ending up at a little restaurant in the heart of the mountains. It’s about coming home from a long day of work and playing baseball with a plastic bat and soccer ball on the front lawn. It’s about inviting someone in when they knock on the door. It’s about never making that someone feel they’ve stayed too long. It’s about watching your kid lick a blob of frosting off his hand, then letting him feed you a fresh blob from that same finger. It’s about ordering more food than you could possibly eat and then ordering dessert too. It’s about letting others help you when help is needed. It’s about knowing that you are enough and  that perfect doesn’t always mean the corners are tucked in and the pillows arranged just so—it can also be blankets hanging off the bed and the pillows being thrown at each other.  It’s knowing that beautiful doesn’t look as much like the “after” picture as it does the “before.”

When I’m around Megan, I feel better about who I am—like I’m being looked at through a pair of glasses that show the loveliest parts of me. That’s how it is for everyone who knows her.

Last Friday, it was time for Mary Poppins to move on. I wasn’t ready, but the final ballad was starting up and the credits were about to roll so we stood on their lawn and hugged until our arms hurt and I took about 100 pictures of her family and they got in their van and drove down our street for the last time. We cheered and waved because as sad as we were for ourselves, we were so happy for them. It felt, I imagine, like blowing a handful of pixie dust off your desk and making a wish. So I made one. It’s not hard to guess what it was. All we need is a long weekend and a handful of plane tickets to make it happen.

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Le sigh.  I miss them so.

I will end, however,  not with a teary sentiment but instead with the ridiculous because more than anything, I will remember the laughs this family gave us. And so, here area few life lessons we learned from Megan’s family.

1. If your pants fall down at a party, just throw your hands up in the air and yell, “Whee!”

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2. Perfect sometimes looks like this:

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3. But sometimes it looks like this:

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4. And more often than not, this:

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6. If you find a crown lying around, by all means try it on.

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7. The same goes for glasses.

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8. You can never go wrong with a yellow slicker and matching galoshes

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9. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose…and you can also pick your mom’s nose.

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10. And finally, if your dreamcatcher isn’t big enough to catch all your dreams, make a bigger one.

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Ask Kevin’s Mom!

*Please excuse the tense changes in this post—when I tried it all in past tense it sounded like they were dead, but present tense didn’t work either. It’s a perfectly imperfect mess of past and present, with a bit of the future thrown in hopefully.

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