Last night: we’d just returned from Napa Valley, where we’d been celebrating: our dear friends had gotten married, and Zoë was part of the ceremony. She was the Flower Girl, tasked with walking down the aisle, tossing petals as she went. She’d been talking about it for weeks. “I’m getting married!” “No, Carrie and R.J. are getting married. You’re the Flower Girl.” “I’m getting married to The Flower Girl?” Three year olds, dude. And so the big day came, and of course Zoë had a complete meltdown: “I DON’T WANNA BE THE FLOWER GIRL! I WANNA GO HOME!” A glass of lemonade and a ride on a golf cart fixed that, and she made a most excellent Flower Girl. The wedding was a joyous occasion, as they all are. People danced, and drank, and sang, happy for the couple, happy to just be.
The drive home: through the heart of California’s immense Central Valley. Miles upon miles of fruit trees, the California Aqueduct snaking alongside the road like a cobalt vein. The rain had greened everything. The sky was a hazy blue, marked by the slashes of contrails. I’ve driven this route a few times, and the boredom is a blessing: the mind shuts off, save to tap the brakes and reset the cruise control as needed. All that remains is the chance, rare these days, to watch the world roll by. Passing the fields, there were vast machines set to water and fertilize. And too, there was the occasional fieldhand, meticulously inspecting the rows, pulling weeds, tossing them into plastic bins. I thought about yardwork. Jesus, how I hated weeding. Gotta do it by hand, my dad used to tell me. Get the roots. Only way to be sure.
I clicked on the news while Beth put Zoë to bed and Lucas put on his pajamas. After watching the awestruck reporters trying to determine What It All Means, I ran upstairs and told Beth, who was making an attempt to unpack. “Can you believe it? They got him. No drones, no missiles. Found his hideout in some suburb in Pakistan, sent some SpecOp guys in, and killed him. Brought the body back to a Navy ship. Amazing.” I was maybe a bit too excited, like I’d just read a particularly vivid chapter of a Tom Clancy novel. Back downstairs, Lucas was watching the news, understanding very little of it. “What happened, Dad?” It was late, and there were better bedtime stories to tell. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow, maybe after school”, I replied. I’d give him a well-reasoned answer, of course – what justice is, what revenge is, and why what often separates us from The Bad Guys is knowing the difference between the two. Still, there was the thought that went through my head, watching the President’s address: some weeds just need to be pulled out.