Mama Ranger and Papa Ranger have flown back to the Western-Hill-Country-of-Pennsylvania so the Ranger and I have returned to our slovenly ways: cooking breakfast with pants off, letting the dog carry up our laundry from the basement (we string panties around her neck...that's not against child labor laws, is it?), leaving beer bottles by the bed and forgoing plates at dinner. Sometimes, it's all Second Edition can do after a hard day of underemployment to put food on the table. Sometimes, I just set the bowl down and hand the Ranger a fork and a beer. That usually shuts him up. Napkin? Isn't that why God gave you a forearm?
We're back in our usual groove: wandering the beach, throwing stones at the ocean, yelling at the dog for eating dead, decaying sea life. Sometimes we run into lonely strangers with hunched shoulders, pinching cigarettes between thumb and index finger, skinny runaway strangers that intrigue us and make us want to take them home and fatten them up with some lasagna or mashed potatoes or maybe even an oven-roasted beef stew.
A skittish boy with beads in his hair and a raggedy-ass backpack asked if his rascally street dog could play with Mia. Of course. Run her ass off...give me some peace. We didn't exchange the usual pleasantries about dog names, breeds and what a beautiful day it was. Nope. Just strolled the length of Agate beach in silence, the two pups chasing each other in and out of the surf, nipping and wrestling, then plowing between the two of us.
I worry that this haunted boy is maybe too far from home, unloved, desperate, wild in a way that invites danger, but I let him lead the way and respected his silence. At the crossing where we parted ways, he blessed me with a most amazing smile. Which gave me hope. But also made me realize, it's good to have parents, folks who know you're missing when you are, who know that you need help when you do, and fight your fight even if you can do it yourself. Perhaps, I shouldn't take offense then that my folks sent me a birthday card that said, "when you are lost, we will find you." Underlined. Yellow highlighter. Am I lost? Here I thought I was found. Yet, it's nice to know someone is looking.
And to my Other Family, the Ranger clan...we look forward to Christmas. We'll have our pants back on by then. Promise.