A Nice Arrival

By Anna Mitchael

My grandmother was masterful at arrivals.

When I was a little girl spending summer days at her house in the piney woods of East Texas, we would spend a good bit of time in her kitchen. The room was on the second floor of her house — she had built it that way so when you looked out the window over the sink all you would see were treetops.

When people came to visit, they would open the back door — I’m not sure if that door even had a lock — and yell to her to tell her they were coming up. I’d be sitting on the tall counter stool watching her cook or reading one of her one-thousand copies of Southern Living, and a voice would drift upstairs, “It’s Gary,” or “It’s Amelia,” or “UPS with a package, where do you want me to leave it?” She’d always wipe her hands on the dish towel hanging on the oven door and then stick her head into the hallway to yell, “Come on up.” Even to the delivery guy. And by the time the visitor arrived in the kitchen she’d have a glass of tea poured for them. That’s a nice arrival.

You probably can think of a friend or two who has this same skill. I’m always insanely jealous of how they do it — the ones who invite 20 people over for dinner like it’s as easy as breathing. Then when you show up at the door, they take time to make you feel like you are the most important guest of the night. Happy to see you. Questions about the day. A place to put your purse and your jacket and here is a drink, here is an appetizer. Where you go from being in your own little world, or maybe a world with your significant other, into suddenly having a secure place in a larger knot of people. Your people. That’s a nice arrival.

It doesn’t have to be just a people thing, either. My husband acquired a new dog a few months ago. Her name is Hula, and she has manners to match what she is: a dog that got passed around until someone with a soft-enough spot decided to keep her. One of her eyes is blue, and the other is brown. If either spots you giving her even a one-second glance, she takes it as an invitation to shower you with love. This is incredibly annoying right up until the moment you realize that you are coming home to a creature who is, essentially, treating you like you hung the moon. That’s a nice arrival.

Really, it’s a perfect time to talk about the moon. The moon and the stars you could sit under for hours in the cool evenings, matched only by afternoons that greet you with just the right amount of sunlight hitting your shoulders.

By the calendar, it’s no different than any other May we’ve had. But I would venture to say that this year, there’s an extra something special. Maybe it’s all those busted pipes or that bone-chilling cold. Maybe it’s the promise of being able to crawl out from under all the rules we’ve come to know so well. But every time I look out my window and see things greening up a little more, the sun coming on just a bit stronger — it’s like I can almost feel that carefree spirit revving up again. That’s a nice arrival.

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