It’s funny what perfect is, or how we get it.
We all have that vision of the perfect job, the perfect house or the perfect life. Most often they are unreasonable goals or limits we put on ourselves just for the sake of dreaming, just to have that ideal image to always look forward to or work toward. Usually, “perfect” is unattainable.
But for me, “perfect” isn’t so much a thing, a person, a position in life or a goal, as it is a moment. That perfect moment. Sometimes these moments last for a few hours, or sometimes just a few minutes. But it’s a collection of these perfect moments that are building the memories of my life. An imperfect life with perfect moments.
You know those moments when it feels like time stops. When everything lines up perfectly in a blissful synchronicity that only lasts a few minutes. Like on a summer morning when the breeze is blowing in the window and you don’t want to get out of bed. When you’re already awake and have to pee really bad, but you don’t want to move because you’re so comfortable. It’s those moments. They can be at major life events or pop-up randomly in our regular mundane lives.
A few years ago, I had the day off from work on a Friday and had big plans to clean the garage. I know, what fun, right? But it was an early summer morning and I was eager to be outside. I remember it exactly.
I had Elvis playing quietly on the radio, the garage door was open, I had my coffee in hand, and the light crisp summer breeze was coming in. It was just perfect. It was still and quiet outside. A little brisk, but sunny. And then as I slowly swept up the garage just taking it in, it somehow faded and turned into just another day. But every time I go out to clean the garage, I try to recreate that scenario. It never works, but it’s always worth a try.
Another time, we were having the family over to watch the fireworks from our front porch. It was our first summer in the house. We were so excited to not only have the family over at our house, but to be able to watch the fireworks from the porch. It wasn’t the best view, but we could still see them. Sometime after the fireworks had ended and there was a traffic jam of cars in front our house, it hit me. We had music playing on the porch, and everybody was having their own conversations and laughing. My brother and his wife, my folks, even grandma was there. It came out of nowhere. All of a sudden I got that feeling of absolute complete contentment. When you’re not thinking about anything else except how that moment feels. I didn’t want to say anything and mess it up, so I just sat there quietly absorbing the moment. Maybe it was the pride I felt of being a first-time homeowner, or realizing that we had successfully made it a little deeper into adulthood. Either way, that year and the fireworks always stick out in my mind.
Now that we have a child, I find that we are constantly trying to create those “perfect” moments. We all want those moments captured on film. We both want that perfect picture with her. The first Mother’s Day, the first Father’s Day, the first Christmas, or her first birthday. We try so hard to make those events perfect. But when I look back to my own childhood, I realize those aren’t the moments that I cherish the most. It’s always the smallest, random, seemingly insignificant memories that mean the most.
I remember one evening when my dad took me to McDonald’s to get a sundae for no reason. It was just me and him on a weeknight. My older brother and mom stayed at home. I thought that was the coolest thing. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Another time my mom took my brother and me to Toys R Us and bought us modeling clay for no reason. We thought it was for my cousin’s birthday present or something. But when we came home, she opened it up and showed us how to use it and helped us make things with it all evening. I don’t remember half of my birthdays, but I’ll always remember that.
I’ve noticed some of the same things with Ellie. I might be able to get that cute picture, the totally staged photo of her with the cute sunglasses that looks like a perfect moment. It’s not, though. I’m usually too busy behind a camera making faces and snapping my fingers and making weird clicking noises trying to get her to smile to really be present. It’s the total unexpected moments that get me.
Around Christmas, Ellie and I were both sick. Miserable, actually. I was lying on the couch barely breathing, while Ellie was sitting on my stomach waiting for Aya to give her a bath. She was watching TV and then looked over at me and gave me this smile. It lasted only a second or two, but it felt like forever. It was this kind of smile that pierced right through to my soul. Perfect. She could have sat there all night and I would have been happy.
And most recently, my perfect moment took place on the front porch. Ellie was a little fussy because the Reverse Tooth Fairy was causing her pain, so we went out on the porch. I was tired and a little irritable. The weather wasn’t even really that great either. And then Ellie asked to sit next to me on the bench and started barking at the birds in the tree. (Yes, literally barking.) Then she rested her head on me and stayed like that for a few minutes while we rocked on the bench. It didn’t last long before she got off and started barking at the dogs across the street, but it was still perfect.
It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day activities and the things we want. We all want that “perfect” life. But I find if I look close enough, I see that I’m already living it.