Last month while browsing the consignment store in my hometown, I stumbled upon a small framed Peruvian textile, similar to one we have hanging in our bedroom. It was in a stack with dozens of other framed paintings and portraits, old photographs, dried flowers. I immediately grabbed it, checked its price ($11) and placed it under my arm for safe keeping.
My mom and I continued to shop - testing the comfort (and rockability) of different chairs before I decided on a white wooden rocker for the nursery.
I put the frame down, picked it up again, then looked at it, like really looked at it. There staring back at me were three girls and a boy, two of them resembling twins in matching/mismatched dresses. An hour in my hand and I hadn't even noticed.
I turned the frame toward my mom who joined me in a flashmob of tears in the middle of the store. She didn't know why we were crying at first.
"Look," I said. "What do you see?"
You know how sometimes things happen and they're so totally simple and yet, life-affirming... scratch that... life DEFINING. Standing in the middle of the store with my "four Peruvian children" and my she-who-cries-when-I-cry-even-when-she-doesn't-know-why-the-hell-I'm-crying mother was my moment, a convergence of fate and love (and hormones) and suddenly everything felt so completely right. Like overhearing a secret you already kind of knew, heard somewhere before. I thought about meeting Hal seven years ago, Archer, the year after that, how on October 2nd 2008, upon first hearing Fable's shrill cries, I turned to Hal and said, "We're not done. There are more."
It's so easy to look elsewhere, browse the aisles, create wish lists, make plans... Sometimes it takes a minute to realize that all you ever wanted was with you all along. Under your arm in a dusty old consignment store.
Sometimes you have to stare at an image for longer than two seconds to see the whole picture.
Look. What do you see?
The first thing I did when I got home later that night was nail the portrait to the wall in our dining room, under the mirror, where Hal agreed it seemed like it had been hanging all along.
And in a way, it had.