The Chief woke up really early this morning. I lifted him from the portable crib and remembered how we had put him to bed in a onesie decorated with various stains. His face was encrusted with last night's nasal discharge and he was whining with the same tone as a serious ambulance.
I thought it might be nice to let Daddy sleep in, so I put The Chief in the stroller, and in my wrinkled pajamas, I took my son for a walk. The town was quiet as we passed patches of hyacinths and hibiscus. An ocean mist sprayed in the air and smelled like vacation. Everything was lovely, except for my hair which seemed to expand with frizz and volume as styled by humidity. From the back of the stroller I noticed the back hair of The Chief's head, too. Known as Hobo Hair, the back half of my son's head always looks like a flame of fluff. Always protruding and tempting for insects to make their nests. I try to smooth it over several times a day, but the battle is becoming useless.
So there we were looking like gypsies in our posh vacation town.
We strolled to the boardwalk where I let The Chief out of the stroller. Grateful to be free of his confines, he started chasing a slow seagull on the beach. When the bird was uncatchable, he went straight for the waves, which knocked him down and wrestled him in the sand. He emerged looking like a cinnamon and sugar dipped wet baby. I took him to a small park nearby to dry him off.
After a minute or so, I realized we were in the homeless encampment. All around us were tired looking faces hovered in sleeping bags and old towels. Some were staring at us, some were still trying to sleep.
A smart dressed woman with a sheep dog approached us.
"Hi! What is your daughter's name?" she asked.
"Oh, this is my son." I replied and told her his name.
"Would he like to pet my dog?" she asked.
The Chief walked over and gave the orange dog a big hug. I have to say, it was really cute.
"Oh!" said the lady with a honey-toned voice,"don't worry, my boy! You will have a good life."
She was patting The Chief on his nest of back hair.
This was a little weird.
"You know, the recession will get better, and you will see, things will be just fine."
Was she crying a little?
On cue, The Chief gave her dog another hug and petted him like he was being patted.
"Well," I said, feeling awkward. "Thanks for letting us pet your dog."
"You bet." she said, pushing her designer glasses up on her face.
As we walked back to our hotel I laughed to myself. And made a mental note: Today is Chup's birthday. We celebrate him today for all sorts of reasons, but today I am going to add one more:
because of him we aren't really homeless.