God's plans are not my plans, no Sir, no Mam. I learn this more and more over time. Just a few days ago, I wrote a post titled: 'On having a dirty house and why I won't clean up the crumbs, no matter who is visiting.' So there, right there in the title, I lied. And yet, just a few days ago I sincerely meant each and every word I wrote. It's what's so temperamental about me and perhaps you, perhaps all of us? So much is about 'that' very moment, the present, the now. On Friday, I returned home from work to find two brothers (my sons) fighting. It was unclear if fists had been raised or if just words had been thrown like punches but the younger of the two was on the floor sobbing. I immediately set to work, like Columbo, trying to find the trail to solve the crime. I had my most serious 'mum voice' on when I heard the key opening the door and my husband tentatively shouting, 'Hi, I've got Harry with me.' My first thought 'Oh no, not again! The last time we saw Harry, the kids had to be told off!' Then my next thought was, 'But it's Friday!' - the house is at its dirtiest on Friday because I clean at the weekend. So, I swallowed my pride thinking how proud I was and am of the new me that refuses to get bogged down in futile, petty details. Our home is 'homely' I said to myself and continued on with life. Then, later that night, I got a message from my husband just before midnight saying that our friend (who he was out with) had missed his last train home and would be heading back home with him and would be sleeping over. Already tucked up in bed and slowly drifting off, I leapt out of bed and began 'the clean'. I cleaned the bathroom, made a makeshift bed on our not very recently vacuumed sitting room floor, changed pillow cases and found extra blankets and returned to bed, smelling of cleaning products and feeling ever so slightly like a fraud. Well, crumbs are annoying and no one wants to willingly revel in crumbs surely?
One thing that I did learn is this: Friendship and kinship and relationship does genuinely surpass the embarrassment of crumbs. Watching my sons engaging with Harry (a close friend of their fathers) a man full of rich experience, a gifted musician and educator, an actor and teller of great stories. The boys deeply entranced by his knowledge and his sharing of facts, by his charm and their not quite knowing what are truths or half truths, just about able to keep up with his quick wit and cleverness with words. The morning after brought more delight in the form of conversations over teas and coffees, the thirteen year old playing guitar for a seasoned pro and receiving feedback that I can only imagine, will stay with him forever. Later in the day, before lunch, we all piled into the car and drove Harry back home to Leamington. He entertained us the whole journey and even when traffic slowed us, his running commentary on the pedestrian carrying an umbrella and walking just ahead of our car, kept us giggling for a good while and again later on when we spoke of it once more. When we arrived at Harry's home, he nervously invited us in. I was delighted. I am not alone. Others worry about their crumbs too. Harry's home was perfect. Spectacular. Filled with all of the vibrancy and range and brilliance and precision and extrovertedness that is Harry. 'Your flat describes you, without you having to' I told him. It reminded me of one of my favourite books 'Paris Interiors' that featured the homes of many creatives. It the home I dream of for myself when I think of the self without a husband or children. I think I made my husband a little sad when I described this but it isn't meaning to be so. Just that idea of a place to be that inspires and nurtured, surrounded by books and music and plants and photographs and vinyl and candles and more books. A haven. A place to be. It is a wonderful thing to have friends to share with your children. It is a privilege for them to learn from the experience of others, others that are other than their parents too. It was a delight to watch Harry doing what Harry does, with all the flair and nuance and cleverness with just a dash of cheekiness, just like a musician. My youngest wants to play trumpet now, 'just like Harry'. Don't we all. Don't we all.