Exclamations of joy filled the air as I put on my 4 year old daughter’s backpack at school drop-off.
“Look my friend! Mama! There’s Lily! Hey, he’s my friend too! Look! Look at all of my friends!”
My daughter was filled with joy at all of these beautiful children who were her friends. They were all so different. Different genders and colors and clothes and backpacks. And they were all so excited to see each other!
I walked her and her brother across the street, greeting the grownups I met with our usual polite, if not distracted nods and half-hearted “have a good day.”
It felt pleasant and normal.
After hugs and “I love you”s with the kids, I walked back to my car.
Strutting toward me was an African American man walking his two kids to the door. He had a swagger and invisible buffer of pride and protection. I smiled my polite “I respect your boundary and hope you have a good day” smile.
Something in his face caught my eye. With the wash of recognition, a huge genuine smile spread across my face. I remembered him from high school!
My daughter’s joyous voice flooded my mind, “look my friend!”
His answering giant smile, with perhaps similar thoughts, lifted my heart and day.
Those polite exchanges give life its upbeat tempo, but the authentic exchange of two people are the soul filling moments that bring me hope for the future.
In these times of emboldened hostility I am grateful for the emboldened greetings of an old school mate.
A return to the days when authenticity ruled the day. Gender and race took a back seat. And we actually liked school 😉