And suddenly, my kids are grown up.
What I mean is, it's been a long time since I've been inside a restaurant with my kids.
The last time we ate out as a family, they were, well, horrible little human beings. It was just that age.
But then we walked inside and closed the door behind us. And waited.
For over a year, we played it as safe as possible — minimized risks. Even when our jobs ordered us back into the office, we did what we could. Drive to work. Eat lunch in - not out with coworkers. A social pariah among young non-believers. Drive back home. Maybe the grocery or drug store.
A grandparent's wave through a glass door.
And we made it through mostly unscathed.
It was, at the same time, the longest and shortest year of our lives.
Two weeks ago, my wife and I sat outside in the rain near a cave. And laughed. And sang. And danced a little.
Music echoed through the clearing.
We cried. And were thankful.
Tonight, my son asked for sushi from the Chinese place he likes best. His eyes lit up when I replied, "Would you like to eat inside?" My wife and I call it "Trump Chinese" because they sell counterfeit MAGA gear out of a golden display case in the lobby. Two hats for $35. The food is comforting - if overpriced. The owners are giant assholes. But it was a regular spot nonetheless.
When we drove up this evening, I cackled when I saw the interior stripped to the studs, and they had finally gone out of business. Good.
Sure, my kids sobbed because that age never likes disappointment. But that was solved easily enough by making a quick detour to a nearby deli instead. Another favorite of ours. Hello, old friend.
We opened the door and stepped out of our time machine — my children another year older. And, my goodness, actually not terrible dinner companions like they used to be.