I picked up the preschooler from his place of happy learning and song and drove him up the coast to a museum party celebrating a new installation of animatronic dinosaurs. My husband phoned as I stood in a vast, beamed hall filled with excited children. You know, he said, at least you’re not that old, as old as the dinosaurs, ha, ha. No, he didn’t say that. That’s what I said to myself. And then I phoned my husband and said it to him, holding the phone out so he could hear the roar from a triceratops as big as a bulldozer and roar-bleats from her animatronic babies. What my husband said was confused gibberish and then he had to go. I followed the preschooler to the panting, roaring, slyly moving T-Rex and we both stood before it for some time, holding hands, knowing we shouldn’t be afraid, but feeling funny anyway. I felt scoured by the dino’s shifting yellow eye and was reminded, for about the 50th time, of trying on a sunhat at Target earlier that day while my son was in school and, to my shock, turning into an octogenarian. I thought hats were my friends. Apparently times have changed.It’s a big toy, my son told me and I assured him he was absolutely right, just a big roaring toy, not real. He led the way across a bridge to a woodsy little area set up with catering tables. Our dinner choices: a turkey leg fit for King Henry the VIII (or a T-Rex) with tiny roasted potatoes and salad for me, a small drumstick, skin on, French bread and salad for my four year old. No pizza? my son asked, looking at me with great confusion. I returned the look. Guess not, I said. Just chicken like you’ve never really eaten it before. Well…he said. Luckily they were serving plenty of lemonade and we sipped brimming cups of it and ate bread at a table beneath those other dinosaurs, oaks, branches spreading quietly over us like a bewitching benediction. That’s right. A freakin’ bewitching benediction. Not far from our table a creek murmured pleasantries and often children galloped by and my son would gallop after them for a bit, then return for more lemonade as I gazed up into the oaks and felt not twenty, not thirty-something, not middle-aged and not 80, but a tiny bit peaceful imagining humanity’s thumbprint on the world’s timeline—about as big as a T-Rex footprint, I thought, ocean-blue, remarkably imperfect and cast forever. My husband phoned. When you’re 95 you’re going to look back and wonder what the heck the fuss was all about, he told me. Okay, I said. Roar. As we left the museum in search of a beachside pizza joint, my son waved at the giant T-Rex. Bye, T-Rex! he told it. I’ll miss you! Several people around him smiled and said aw and placed their hands over their hearts as I scrounged in my purse for a tissue. I live with the future. How lucky am I.
You’re definitely lucky! Great story, and I especially liked “imagining humanity’s thumbprint on the world’s timeline.”
Thanks, MLR. Roar.