Come sit with me a while

When I was little, I desperately wanted a house with a veranda–the kind of veranda that wrapped around the house like a giant hug, keeping everyone safe. You know, an inviting place to spend time.
I imagined sitting in a large wicker chair or in a big swing, or maybe a soft, enveloping hammock, while sipping lemonade and waving to neighbours as they strolled past.
“How are the grandkids, Janey,” I’d shout, waving my arm over my head like I’m flagging down a train.
“How’s that new kitchen sink working out for you, Susie,” I’d call out, as if I was privy to such information, no detail too insignificant.
I think that imagination was fed from growing up on a farm and having no neighbours close enough to wave at; no friends knocking on my door to invite me out to play.
My sister and I used to pretend–taking turns knocking on the door and then asking, “Can Wendi come out to play?”
I didn’t have a house with a veranda, but I had the next best thing (actually two next best things). First things first. I had a friend whose grandma had the best veranda in town, in my estimation.
It was big and spacious, and served a multitude of purposes in our day of play.
As if that wasn’t extraordinarily fortunate enough, Cheryl’s grandma’s house also had a playhouse–one that came complete with a trunk with lovely dress-up clothes in it. I especially loved to don a pair of skirts that sparkled and shimmered, one in green and one in blue; skirts that royalty surely wore at some point to a gala of exotic glamorous significance.
Cheryl and I would pull on elbow-length gloves and wide-brimmed hats, and then we would stroll onto the veranda that may have been Paris one day and San Francisco another or just home sweet home.
After a day of playing pretend with Cheryl, I went home thinking my life couldn’t possibly be any more perfect, veranda or no veranda.
My other great fortune was being invited down the road to play with Rita, Joyce, and Mary. We rolled out huge pieces of paper on their long dining table, on which to design our best idea of “home.” We had Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues to cut sofas and chairs and refrigerators out of for our perfect homes, and my home always had a veranda.
I believe we spent hours in our make-believe design studio and it never lost its fun or fascination.
I wonder if anyone sits on a veranda these days. Do they invite neighbours up out of the sun for a cold drink of iced tea? Do we pause from our busy lives and ponder the day, the hour, to learn the details of each other’s lives; to share the joy and the grief, the anxiety and the celebration.
Or are we always in a hurry, with long lists of things we want to accomplish, cramming as much as we can into any given day–busy killing weeds and washing windows that we seldom take the time to look out of.
In this day of technology-driven lives, so many of us walk the streets, head down, folded over cellphones, sending messages and not noticing a single thing that surrounds us. Progress? I think not.
I’d jump at the chance to play pretend with Cheryl on her grandma’s veranda, and I happily would draft a home and cut from catalogues beside Rita, Joyce, and Mary given the chance.
No technology required.