Something was in the air.
Ittybit had been scouring the yard for poultry feathers. She had a fistful and I could see her mind turning with all the possibilities. Maybe she'd make pens for writing … or a headdress … or maybe she was planning on cloning an entire Gallus Gallus flock of her very own.
I also noticed she was running toward my friend, who, I noticed, was curling and uncurling her finger in my daughter's direction.
Whisper, whisper, whisper …. Pssst psst, psst, pssssssst … Giggling.
Here it comes ...
“Mommy, Can we take one of their roosters home with us? Abby's mom said it was OK.”
Abby's mom was sitting in the lawn chair, cackling like a possessed chicken, as her flock of fledgelings darted about the yard, diving into mud puddles and hunting down all manner of creepy-crawling things to eat.
As were our children, who, as the weekday backyard birthday party came to a close, were still finding themselves as hungry as if we'd fed all the festive fare to the fowl.
Well … most of our children, anyway. My youngest, filled to the gizzards with cake and ice cream, was sitting on my lap blowing soap bubbles. It would have been an unspeakable horror for him to have to walk on the grass – which was wet from all the make-shift water slide fun – and forever endure the squeaking of his shoes.
“Does he have sensory issues?” one mother had asked discretely. “No, he's just weird,” I laugh.
I was an outsider, a last-minute guest who had never even known such a thing as Weekday Birthday Parties existed.
I marveled at the turnout.
Abby's mom just laughed. “Well, none of them work.”
She wasn't making a judgement, she wasn't picking a fight ... she was just stating the obvious: These women didn't have to punch a time clock or show up at an office to put in eight hours before they could go home to their families.
So here I was, a new member of the maternal organization of free agents, finally seeing all the possibilities.
It's not as if I don't have work … like this column … or photography … it's just that I also have vacuuming … and carting of kids from one event to another ... taking the cat to the vet. I just have to get over the idea that sweeping up dirt that gets tracked into the house is my new job description. ... It is not.
It's not like I died.
I'd just been laid off. My job added to a pile of more than 3,200 positions torched by the news industry in 2011.
But oddly enough, once the shock of timing had worn off, all I was left with was relief.
I can do anything I want to do.
I can be self-employed. I can freelance. I can do whatever I want. ... Sort of ...
I could garden! If-I-could-find-something-that-didn't-need-sun-or-skill-to-grow.
I could write that book! If-I-could-figure-out-a-plot.
I could even raise chickens! If-I-didn't-live-in-a-village-that-has-outlawed-farm-animals-within-its-borders.
“You know, we haven't had a tick all summer and that's pretty amazing for this yard,” my friend gloated, as only a woman who lives outside of zoning can.
I just smile as I try to brainstorm something to reciprocate her kindness. Maybe I'll bring her kids a puppy.
With friendships like these, who needs enemies?