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Saturday, August 21, 2004

The Lovell Family

Once upon a lifetime ago, long summer days meant something altogether different than they do now.  Days were spent playing in the Colorado mountains, evenings were spent on the deck of my grandparent’s house, listening to the various night creatures and gazing up at the endless stars that had been gone long before they ever showed in our sky.

Most of my days I spent playing with RAJ, often, if not always, including my brother and sister and another neighbor, Jeff, in our games and exploration.  Sometimes, though, the Lovells would visit.

You see, the house above and the house below my grandparent’s house (they live on a mountain, so up the street and down the street were quite literal descriptions) were both summer houses.  The Wartmans lived above and the Lovells lived below.  The Lovell house belonged to an older couple, maybe just a little younger than my grandparents, but they often brought grandkids with them, or more often, loaned out the house to their kids who brought their kids for a week or two at a time.  Among the kids who’d visit were Julie and Sarah Lovell. 

Julie was a golden child.  She was perfect in every way.  Beautiful, young, soft spoken, filled with wisdom beyond her years.  She was the oldest of the clan of kids who all hung out on those balmy summer afternoons after the rain had let up and before everyone’s parents called them in for the evening.  She’d teach us how to play softball or walk us to the little waterfalls up the road.  My cousin, Mike, had quite a huge crush on her, but then, we all adored and idolized her in our own way.  Sarah was younger than I and not as “perfect” as her sister, but she too was quite personable and fun to be around.  Their parents made sun tea and showed us how to play games and family dinners were family dinners, including saying grace.  They seemed perfect in every way.

We were only allowed to intrude on their fun when we were specificallly invited.  My grandmother made it very clear that they were on vacation and that we were only to go over if they asked.  We’d often sit on Grandma’s deck and watch below as they’d play games or lounge on the small deck of their summer home eating or reading.  During those times, a certain envy would itch at me like you wouldn’t believe.  I wanted so badly to be a Lovell, too.  With the perfect mom and dad and two perfect sisters and a perfect summer home and perfect clothes and, well, on top of it all they were all just so nice

The evenings were the toughest for me.  We’d hear their laughter as they played board games, their door wide open, and the flicker of dim light peeking out through the screen door.  I’d spy for hours, until Grandma said I had to come in and go to bed.  They didn’t have to go to bed, yet… they were still up playing.  It was the laughter that grabbed at me and brought such deep envy.  They were so happy and so close.  I don’t recall ever hearing a cross word or a fight.  I don’t think their parents ever yelled - or needed to yell. 

Now that I’m older and can look back with a little bit more realism, I know that things are just different when you’re on vacation.  Some of the daily stress of life doesn’t weigh so heavily.  I know that people only show what they want others to see.  I know that nothing is perfect, no matter how it may look.  Everyone disagrees at some point.  Everyone gets tired and everyone gets irritable.  In fact, before I was ever out of my childhood, the Lovells (Sarah and Julie’s parents) divorced.  Julie spent several months in that summer house as a young adult “living in sin” (I know, I know… big deal) with her boyfriend.  No one is ever truly perfect.

Still, I always remember those summers. 

Sometimes I wonder if other people have over heard my family and thought us perfect.  Sometimes I wonder if our laughter has carried to a set of ears who desperately longed to be a part of our fun.  Has anyone else been on the outside of our house, looking in… seeing something that appeared to be one thing but was really something quite different?  Will the neighbor kids remember our house as the place to come for fun and games and “cool” parents, or are our problems, issues, and strife as apparent to them as they are to me?

Perspective is strange like that.  You never really know how things look to someone else.

Posted by Mommy on 08/21 at 08:25 PM
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