You are not allowed to park your car on the street overnight where we live. I paid $40 worth of overnight parking violations the other day, plus 7 bucks for the convenience of doing it online. Made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t go to bed with the car on the street. The car was on the street tonight, shiny and white beneath the woodpecker’s hideaway out front. As Sean began locking up I offered to move the car, he accepted, which was lousy as I hadn’t wanted to move the car. Sigh. Slipping upstairs to bed before I had a chance to pout, he left me with no choice but to move the car or incur another citation. I strongly suspect a neighbor is ratting on us so better not to risk it.

I grabbed my keys from the sideboard, assured the dog I would return, and walked to the car in my socks. I was in the driver’s seat, buckled in and with the door locked in one swift move. I find these trips to the car like going into the basement, in all likelihood it’s totally safe, no ogres or hoodlums, and yet my heart still races, my legs still tremble. I turned the key in the ignition and the car was filled with music.

And before you knew me I’d traveled ’round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream

It’s a favorite of Briar’s and I had been playing it as I unloaded the groceries earlier, the girls waiting in their car seats. Briar sang along at the top of her lungs about a line and a half behind the song. Avery kept her eyes trained on Briar, kicking her feet and bobbing her head as if removing water from her ear. The sounds of them delighting in the song came back to me as I sat in the car beneath the tree on our dark, quiet street.

I put the car into gear and started down the street. My heart swelled at how close the girls felt, despite both having long since fallen asleep upstairs in their rooms. Turning the corner at the end of our street, I started to come around the block. Sometimes we walk to the park this way, it’s the point at which Briar realizes slides are not far off. Avery, ever susceptible to Briar’s moods, pops with joy, feet kicking, hands waving and of course, little red lips rat-tat-tatting in sharp exclamations of delight.

Cause I believe in fairytales
And dreamer’s dreams
Like bedsheet sails
And I believe in Peter Pan
And miracles, anything I can to get by
And fireflies

I make another wide turn and think of my family. The light on the street is perfect, porches and driveways bathed in a silver glow, and lawns that beg for bare feet and cartwheels. We had taken a walk on this street tonight, Avery in the Baby Bjorn and Briar alternately on my shoulders and walking beside me. We walked 6 blocks stopping to touch each fydrant. We also paused and knelt for fences, grass and mountainous sidewalk cracks. The empty sidewalks and street looked back at me, as if resting before tomorrow brought more moms and daughters seeing the sights. I smiled thinking of us as a part of this street’s history, walking and exploring its ins and out.

Now before I grew up I saw you on a cloud
And I could bless myself in your name
And pat you on your wings
And before I grew up I heard you whisper so loud
Well life is hard and so is love
Child, believe in all these things

Another right, and then the last into our driveway. Home. I stopped the car and parked. From this angle the house looked dark. I stepped out of the car and walked to the end of our driveway, the same silvery light shone down on our sidewalk. I stopped, looked around, looked down, remembered the song and the girls, and took my socks off. Standing with my feet bare on the concrete, I chuckled. It felt good, this cool, coarse surface beneath my feet. I took a few tentative steps, and then more confidently, I walked toward the corner. The upstairs light went on, Sean washing up. I kept watching the house, through Briar’s window I could see the blue glow of her fish light, and in Avery’s the new air conditioner Sean installed while I walked the girls.

Without music I heard their voices. Man. Babe. Mama. Mommy. Maw-Me. Manda Bear. I saw tapestries blowing in the sun on the porch and Sean carrying Briar on his back, Avery patting the cat and wiping hair from her eyes. I looked at the sidewalk and saw my shadow, strong, and on this night, surprisingly beautiful. I looked at the lines of my body on the ground against the outline of our house and felt at peace. This life of sidewalk chalk and belly button talk is magical indeed. One short spin around the block was just the reminder I needed.

Before you met me I was a fairy princess
I caught frogs and called them prince
And made myself a queen
And before you knew me I’d traveled ’round the world
And I slept in castles
And fell in love
Because I was taught to dream