In my junior year of high school, it was just me and my dad. My mom lived in Las Vegas, my sister was at college on the East Coast, and the four people I thought would be my step-family were gone for good. So it was just us - a bratty 16-year-old and a father she barely knew.
He made efforts to be a part of my life, and I usually recognized them for what they were. That didn't mean I appreciated them very much - they were more like something I tolerated with an eye roll and embarassed grumbling of "Oh, Dad..." running through my head. He would ask about my friends, try to keep up to date with my schedule, and ask if I wanted to do things together on weekends. But I was a teenager, and the last thing I wanted was to spend a bunch of my precious time with a man I didn't know well and had never been close to.
One day, on the way home from school, we were driving on the freeway. Green Day's "Time of Your Life" - which was relatively new and hot at the time - came on the radio. After a minute or so, Dad turned to me and said, "This is Green Day right?"
I did the requisite rolling of eyes and conceded. "Yes, Dad. Green Day."
"Yeah," he said. "I thought so. I like this song."
I think I gave a second eye roll. He was so transparent! Trying to be "cool" and pay attention to my kind of music. How lame can one man be?
And yet now, so many years later, I look back on that moment with such fondness. He did pay attention, and he tried to notice me and my life. I wasn't always noticing back then, but I notice now. And perhaps more importantly, I notice those kinds of moments as they happen these days, instead of after the fact.
(Well, okay, I don't always notice them as they happen, but I certainly make more of an effort now.)
Sometimes it means just sitting quietly at home, occasionally finding a funny blog post or entertainment article, while the kitties lie purring at my feet. Other times, it's blasting through a fast-paced lindy hop with a partner who smiles and laughs and makes me feel like I'm a good dancer and a special person. Or maybe it's reading a book with Bubbers, chasing him around the kitchen, hearing him call out, "Nanny Lara!" when he loses sight of me, then hearing him squeal and giggle when I jump out and surprise him.
Whatever it is, it's little - so little, in fact, that it'd be easy to miss if I weren't looking for it. But I am. I'm looking for those little moments, the ones that'll stay with me for years and years, and keep me warm and happy in the darkness. Because if I don't look for them, they'll pass me by, and someday, when I look back on my life, I'll wonder what happened to all that wasted time.
So stop, look, listen, and notice the world around you. What little moments have made your life recently?
Our lives are made in these small hours,
These little wonders,
These twists and turns of fate.
Time falls away, but these small hours,
These small hours